Three Words That Will Transform Your Fundraising in 2021
At the start of last year, we premiered a new strategy for maximizing fundraising results and the donor experience: the Digital Engagement Center. Relying on the bedrock of decades of experience in contact center programs, the thing we used to call “phonathon,” this next-generation strategy allows for contact across multiple channels: calling, texting, personalized video, and email, with the direction of advanced analytics to focus on the best donor prospects.
Then the COVID pandemic hit, and this new solution was crucial. We implemented a fully remote-capable and secure platform that lets you coordinate outreach from anywhere and keeps your ambassadors in touch with donors when they can’t be in the same room together. Ambassadors can place calls, send texts, and deliver video messages in real time—and you can manage all the outreach remotely.
The results were incredible. Contact rates and call times jumped over 20 percent. We sent millions of texts with RNL partners and got a 99 percent positive response rate. Gifts flowed in for annual campaigns, giving days, and emergency funds. Students kept their jobs and institutions set records for outreach and results.
Let’s break down the three words in “Digital Engagement Center” to unpack exactly why this new strategy is working.
Digital: It’s time to meet donors where they spend their time, on mobile devices
Talking on our phones is just a small fraction of what we use our devices for—texting, watching video, and reading emails take up much more of our time. To transform your fundraising and harness the power of digital engagement, you need an integrated solution. Here are some things we’ve seen:
- 99 percent of the texts receive a positive response. The highest reply rate is for texts that are related to what’s happening right now—like a pledge reminder, or a giving day promotion.
- The University at Buffalo received over $44,000 from a one-day text campaign.
- Video messages have an open rate of 55 percent, and have increased pledge fulfillment by over 15 percent.
Digital channels augment the conversations you’re having. You can enhance stewardship, receive commitments, and push immediate pledge fulfillment links to donors via text. This makes it easy to give and lets donors interact in a way they feel comfortable.
We’re starting to see major gifts of $25,000+ identified through student ambassador texts and videos. Donor engagement has changed, and if you’re not maximizing the impact of “digital,” you’re losing out.
Engagement: Fundraising is about so much more than asking for money
The past year has been stressful and isolating. We’re all craving interaction. But even so, the best programs have learned that relentlessly dialing phone numbers to ask for donations is not an optimal strategy. To get the best return on investment, the solicitation contact needs to be wrapped together with authentic, consistent engagement.
With a Digital Engagement Center, you can:
- Promote virtual events you are hosting
- Thank donors personally, through video messages, calls, texts,and voicemail
- Survey donors about their opinions and passions
- Offer numerous giving opportunities, like crowdfunding campaigns, giving days, and online giving
- Fuel your major and planned gift pipeline. Think about digital engagement as the fastest way to generate valuable “contact reports” out there.
We’ve all heard the complaint: “You only ever call me for money.” That’s a losing strategy these days, when donors expect to be involved and engaged before, during, and after the giving experience. And donors still love talking with students—whether you’re managing them yourself or have our help.
A huge benefit of a digital engagement center is your ability to maximize the use of integrated channels. You might want to save more expensive contact like calling for solicitation, but the other channels like texting and video can provide a massive engagement boost and improve your ROI immediately.
Center: Fundraising doesn’t happen in a room any more.
Student ambassadors have gathered in physical contact centers for decades to reach out to donors. It’s highly effective, and we expect this model to return later this year when it’s safe. But we learned this year that a physical “center” isn’t the only way to organize the donor engagement effort.
Implementing a PCI-DSS compliant remote engagement solution, we made the center…well, everywhere. Your ambassadors can contact donors from wherever they are, and you can manage and direct strategy in real time from wherever you’re at. This allows us to remain social with donors, even when we have to be distant. And, student ambassadors who might not otherwise be able to do the job can now participate, with more flexible scheduling to maximize donor engagement.
We’ve learned key strategies over the last year for onboarding, coaching, and retaining ambassadors in the remote environment.This shift requires a change in thinking. The center in digital engagement center is now your strategy. Center means staying on target with a focus to key goals. Maximizing flexibility for both you and your ambassadors, even when you can’t be in a room together, is a key part of this strategy.
Digital Engagement Center: three words that mean a donor engagement paradigm shift
The ability to engage donors across multiple, integrated channels is a game changer, and maximizes your return on investment, which is crucial in tight budget times. The response from over 100 RNL partners who implemented a Digital Engagement Center in 2020, and their donors, has been incredible.
We can’t go silent with donors. We need to adapt to a world where we can’t be in the same room together. Coordinated digital engagement is the solution. Contact us today to find out more about how you can quickly implement a digital engagement center for your program, and transform your donor engagement with high ROI.
Level Up Your Donor Engagement
See the RNL Digital Engagement Center, a revolutionary approach to donor engagement, powered by advanced analytics and omnichannel outreach.