Corporate Sponsorship for Your Run, Walk, or Ride Event: Best Practices

Corporate Sponsorship for Your Run, Walk, or Ride Event

Most nonprofits are used to asking individuals for donations to support their run, walk, or ride fundraising events.

But asking businesses to sponsor those same events can be just as important! In fact, IEG, an organization that tracks corporate sponsorship of charitable causes, projects that total sponsorship spending by businesses in North America alone will reach $23.2 billion in 2017.

So how do you tap into that source of funds for your organization’s next event?

Check out some valuable tips and techniques that we’ve found work well for the nonprofits we’ve worked with over the years!

Who do you ask for a corporate sponsorship?

Start locally

Approach the businesses in the immediate area of your event. They’re likely to see the value in sponsoring an event in their own community.

Look online

Search for lists of companies that donate to nonprofits. You might find one you haven’t thought of before.

Know your points of contact

In addition to working with the person who will sign the sponsorship agreement, ask to speak to someone about forming a team and getting more involved. Developing a relationship with both parties will ensure you get more out of the partnership and help the sponsor feel more involved.

Get human resources involved

Most organizations looking for corporate sponsors approach the marketing department of a business — but why not ask the human resources department?

Ask if they have a health initiative in place. If they do, asking them to form a team would be a great way for them to get involved. You can offer discount codes for employees, a designated meeting place on event day, volunteer opportunities, and/or other perks depending on the level of sponsorship.

How do you ask for a corporate sponsorship?

Be creative

You can have a company sponsor just about anything — from the portable toilet area to your photo booth. Use aspects of your event that already exist, and turn them into sponsorship perks.

For larger events, know your worth

If you have an event with hundreds or thousands of people, make sure your levels are high enough (such as $1,000 and up). You don’t want to be so high that no one will want to sponsor, but by keeping levels elevated, sponsors will feel like this event is well-run, and that you have confidence in what you’re doing.

For smaller events, don’t leave money on the table

If you have a smaller event and have difficulty securing a large sponsorship, consider offering a lower sponsorship level with fewer perks. For instance, offer a $100 level, and several smaller businesses that were not interested in the larger sponsorship may be able to take part at that level within their budget.

Tell them a story

Explain to sponsors how their sponsorship/support can directly impact someone as part of your mission. For instance, $1,000 will help us do X for X number of people. Also, for your past sponsors, tell them how last year’s sponsorship was able to help your organization accomplish X.

Tailor your ask

Avoid using a one-size-fits-all ask for your potential sponsors. Customize each sponsorship for each company/business or person of contact. If there’s a natural fit between your organization’s mission and the company, use that to build your ask around.

Make them feel like you’re building a mutually-beneficial partnership toward a common good/mission, not just asking them for money.

Remember in-kind donations

If a business declines to offer a monetary sponsorship, ask for a non-monetary sponsorship such as coupons for free services on event day, or that a portion of their proceeds on event day to be donated back to the organization. A business in the area could also serve as a location for the kick-off party, packet pick up, or after-event party.

You can also reach out to companies to provide services you’ll need at the event, such as photography, DJ/entertainment, signage, food, portable toilets, and tent/chair rentals. The value of their goods or services can equate to a sponsorship level.

Use data

Find out what demographics a sponsor is targeting, and provide them with information about your event that would be relevant. For example, if a company tends to target women 50-60 years old, let the company know how many people or what percentage of participants attend your event that fall into this group.

Pay attention to your timing

The timing of your ask is important. A lot of larger companies earmark a specific amount of money each calendar year for charitable giving, so be sure to ask when is the best time for them to consider a sponsorship.

Oftentimes, you have to get your ask in very early to even be considered. Other times, you have to consider the business you’re reaching out to. For instance, if you’re reaching out to an accounting firm during tax season, you’re most likely not top-of-mind and your request may go unanswered.

Don’t give up

Always check back to ensure someone has received your call, email, letter, etc. If not, ask to speak to the best person at the company, and/or resend your ask to that person.

How do you work with a sponsor once they’ve signed up?

Treat them like participants

It may sound odd, but many sponsors will feel more engaged and like they’re getting more from their sponsorship if they hear from you more often. This doesn’t mean sending them an email every day, but rather treating them like you would a top fundraising team.

Use the same engagement tools and approaches you use with participants to connect with your sponsors. Offer them a free team captain registration, help them get their page set-up, and provide fundraising coaching. The more a sponsor fundraises and the larger their team, the more exposure they will get and will feel like they’re getting more out of the sponsorship.

Pay attention to the little things

Yes, big perks matter, but the little touch points make a big difference. Send a handwritten thank you or a note from a participant or beneficiary of your cause’s work. If the sponsor also fundraised, create a top fundraisers certificate that you send to them by mail.

These little touch points show that you acknowledge the importance of their support, yet they cost minimal amounts, demonstrating good stewardship in that you aren’t wasting the sponsor’s money.

Thank your sponsors publicly

Don’t underestimate how much companies and businesses like to see themselves online. Tag their company/business page on Facebook, and publicly thank them in a post. You can easily do the same on Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Most likely, the company will then re-post your original post to their full audience to help your event reach new constituents. You can also highlight your sponsors in an event program, marketing materials, and outreach (e.g., emails).

Securing corporate sponsorship may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Put these best practices to use for your next run, walk, or ride event, and corporate sponsorship will be within your reach.


Special thanks to Daniella, Laura, and Christina of Cathexis Partners for contributing the above advice! Cathexis Partners help nonprofits maximize technology for fundraising and supporter engagement.

Daniella Dowiak of Cathexis Partners

Daniella Dowiak is an Account Manager who has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than seven years. With a deep understanding of nonprofits’ limited resources, she is passionate about helping organizations get the most out of their technology.

 

Laura L. Higgins of Cathexis PartnersLaura L. Higgins is a Strategic Consultant who specializes in fundraising and community-building events, and has worked with nonprofits for more than 15 years in various roles including staff member, volunteer, and consultant.

 

Christina Relacion of Cathexis PartnersChristina Relacion is an Account Manager who has more than 10 years of experience in digital marketing, website editing, video production, and social media. Before joining Cathexis Partners, she served as Communications Manager at the Scleroderma Foundation’s national office.

 

DonorShops / Double the Donation Integration Guide

Does your nonprofit use DonorShops? Are you looking to incorporate Double the Donation’s matching gift information into your DonorShops donation pages?

If so then this guide is for you.

How does the integration work?

DonorShops will display a Double the Donation widget after a donation or purchase is completed, on the Thank You or Order Review page.  This widget gives your donors the option to select their employer in order to help match their contribution.

DonorShops does not store any donor/employer matching data.  All DonorShops does is display the widget powered by Double the Donation.  You manage donation matching using the Double the Donation product.

How do I install Double the Donation into my DS site?

Before you get started, you’ll need the Embed Code from your Double the Donation account.  Be sure to have that handy before you follow these steps.

Step #1: If you haven’t already, create a Thank You page for your One-Page Checkout donations.  Go to Pages & Menus and create a new page.  Be sure to select “Visibility: Hidden from Menu”.  Edit the content of the page to be sure you communicate a thoughtful thank you message.

 

Step #2: Below your thank you message is where you’ll want to include the Double the Donation embed code.  DO NOT TRY TO PASTE THE EMBED CODE DIRECTLY INTO THE TEXT BOX.  That will not work.  You need to paste in the embed code using the Code option in the text editor and paste the embed code there.

Step #3: Hit Save in the top right corner.  After hitting save, you can click ‘View’ to preview the Thank You Page.

Step #4: Now you need to connect the Thank You Page with your One-Page Checkout forms.  This option could differ depending on the theme you have installed.  Typically, its under Site Design > Customize.  Look for a setting called “One Page Checkout Thank You Page”.  Select the Thank You page you just created, then hit Save in the top right corner.

Step #5: Done :)

Double the Donation Embed Notes: If you’re not sure how to access the Double the Donation Embed Code, please follow the below steps:

  1. Log into your Double the Donation account by going to https://doublethedonation.com/members/
  2. Choose the Embed Our Plugin Link
  3. Copy the Embed Code

Additional details are available at https://doublethedonation.com/blog/2015/02/matching-gift-plugin/

 

For Add-to-Cart Checkouts:

After a cart has been processed, the donor is automatically taken to the order review screen.  That serves as the “Thank You” page for add-to-cart style donations and purchases.  In order to connect Double the Donation to this page, you’ll need to update the advanced template for your Order Review screen.  Be sure you have the proper permission levels before continuing.

  1. Go to Site Design > Advanced.  Find the Order Review template and click the magnifying glass to modify it.
  2. Paste your code either at the very top or the very bottom of the code that you see on your screen.  Pasting at the top will cause the Double the Donation widget to appear ABOVE the order review screen.  Pasting at the bottom will cause it to appear BELOW the order review screen.  You choose.
  3. Hit PUBLISH in the top right corner.  The change you make here is more difficult to preview.  You’ll need to find an existing order and click the “View Customer Receipt” option to view the order review screen changes in action.
  4. Done :)

 

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4aGoodCause and Double the Donation Integration

4aGoodCause / Double the Donation Matching Gift Integration

4aGoodCause and Double the Donation have teamed up to help your online donors acquire matching gifts from their employers.

How it Works

4aGoodCause clients can integrate Double the Donation’s search tool directly on the thank you pages of their fundraising campaigns. Donors can then lookup company specific matching gift information right after donating. After the donor makes their gift the website will prompt them to “See if your employer will match your donation!”

Matching Gift Search

Visit the Double the Donation website to view a demo of the plugin.

 

Why Matching Gifts Matter

Though $2 to $3 billion is donated through matching gift programs every year, only about 1 in 10 eligible donors match their donations.

Every year, about $6 to $10 billion of matched donations is left unclaimed. Since many companies may match up to $10,000 for every donation, the revenue adds up quickly.

Raise awareness and make it easy for your donors to submit matching gifts using this new integration with Double the Donation.

How to get started

To enable the matching gift tool in 4aGoodCause you’ll first need a valid API Key from Double the Donation.

You can either obtain a Double the Donation API key from your Double the Donation Account Management Portal (if you signed up for Double the Donation’s Premium Plan) or through 4aGoodCause.

How to enable the plugin in 4aGoodCause

Once you have your API Key follow these steps to turn on Double the Donation in your 4aGoodCause account.

#1: Login to https://4agc.com as a Nonprofit User.

#2: Click on Integrations on the left menu and click on the Double the Donation logo.

4aGoodCause Integration Options

#3: Check the box to Enable the Double the Donations matching gift plugin. Enter your API Key in the textbox provided. It is 16 characters long. It is recommended you copy and paste the key into the box to avoid errors. Only valid keys given to you by 4aGoodCause or Double the Donation will properly enable the tool. Click Save Key.

4aGoodCause Matching Gift Integration with api key from Double the Donation

Your donors will now be presented with matching gift information after donating or registering across all your campaigns.

4aGoodCause Matching Gift Integration on Donation Confirmation Page

More Information

Visit the Double the Donation Website or contact support@4agoodcause.com for more information.

How to disable the integration

Should you desire to disable this integration, follow the steps below.
  1. Login to https://4agc.com as a Nonprofit User.
  2. Click on Integrations on the left menu.
  3. Click the Double the Donation logo.
  4. Uncheck the Enable Double the Donations Matching Gift Plugin box
  5. Click Save Key.
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3 Things You Didn't Know About Volunteer Grants

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Volunteer Grants

Did you know that one volunteer hour equates to about $23 for your organization? Of course, this may vary by state or location, but volunteer hours have a significant impact on the nonprofits they serve.

Did you also know that those volunteer hours can have a large financial benefit to your organization if they come from corporate volunteers?

Corporations can give donations based on the number of hours their organization contributes. Think about how this could impact your cause!

It’s no surprise that corporate grants and donations elevate your mission. Developing relationships and partnerships with corporations can have unlimited benefits for your cause. However, there are a few things that you may not know about corporate giving.

Corporate Giving is on the Rise

Corporations donated $18.45 billion for an increase of 3.9% in 2015. The revolution of corporate responsibility is steadily growing. Clearly, corporations want to make a difference in their communities.

Millennials want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, too. The Millennial Impact Report states that millennials want to work for a corporation that is making a difference in their community and the world.

By 2020, millennials will make up about 50% of the workforce. By incorporating philanthropy into corporate culture, businesses become more attractive to this generation.

Corporations must make philanthropy a priority in order to stay competitive in today’s market, which will only increase the popularity of volunteer grants and programs.

It is also important that your nonprofit stays at the forefront of this trend. Making sure your supporters are aware of these opportunities could be extremely beneficial for the growth of your organization.

In order to continue the growth of corporate giving and volunteer grants your nonprofit needs to have an open stream of communication with your supporters.

Here are a few ways your nonprofit can spread the word about volunteer grants:

  • Communicate all benefits of volunteer grants to supporters. By communicating the benefits of corporate grant programs, you can rest assured that your volunteers are aware of the opportunities. This will encourage them to reach out to their employers to see if they can participate in one as well.
  • Be available for questions. Your volunteers are bound to have questions. You need to clearly communicate contact information on your website and via social media. If volunteers cannot get their questions answered, they will likely go somewhere else to volunteer.
  • Reach out to local businesses and corporations for partnership opportunities. You won’t know if a business would be interested in a partnership if you don’t reach out to them. You never know what relationships will come from being persistent!
  • Promote volunteer grants on social media, emails, newsletters, and marketing efforts. Educating your supporters about grant programs will also encourage them to reach out to their employers. They want to help your organization in any way they can, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so!
  • Celebrate your current corporate sponsors and volunteers. Showing appreciation for your current volunteers and corporate sponsors will encourage them to continue to give to your organization. Everyone likes to feel appreciated.

2015 Was America’s Most Generous Year Yet

When there is an increase in charitable donations, it is a direct reflection of the state of the economy. More donations equate to better economic conditions. If the state of the economy is doing well, then corporations are likely to be doing well too.

In order to capitalize on the opportunities created by a strong economy, you must make your nonprofit visible to your community.

When corporate volunteers are aware of your brand, they’re more likely to come to your organization when they’re ready to donate their time.

Here are a few ways to make your nonprofit stand out to corporations and encourage volunteer grant programs:

  • Cultivate brand ambassadors. By having your current volunteers promote your cause, you will attract more volunteers and corporate supporters. The more people you have talking about your mission and wearing your logo, the greater buzz your organization will create.
  • Strengthen your leadership team. Encouraging strong leadership within your organization can also encourage more corporate grants and volunteers. Corporations want to be involved and support an organization that has structure. There are many ways to show your supporters how strong your leadership team is.
  • Engage supporters. Engaging supporters is key to cultivating corporate volunteers. You can do this via social media, emails, newsletters, and your overall marketing efforts.
  • Encourage corporate volunteers. By building relationships with your corporate volunteers, they will be inspired to continue to volunteer for your organization. The stronger relationships you build, the more loyalty and trust you will develop.
  • Research team volunteer grants. Group volunteer grants provide an opportunity for your nonprofit to reach out to corporations that have known grant programs. Corporations want to be involved in the community, and this is the perfect way for your nonprofit to create that partnership.

Corporate Giving Consists of 5% of Total Charitable Donations

What does this mean for the nonprofit community? There is a lot of room for growth with volunteer grants!

5% is a small amount in comparison to the amount individuals donate, so now is a great time for your nonprofit and the community to reach out to corporations and build partnerships.

Research companies that provide volunteer programs and grants. You can start by reviewing the top matching gift companies. These companies will give you a great starting point. Consider reaching out to begin building relationships with them.

Your organization can also promote the value to corporate responsibility. The more corporations are open to giving to nonprofits, the more social good nonprofits can do. Corporations have a lot of power and financial resources that can be extremely beneficial to your nonprofit.

In order for your nonprofit to grow and be sustainable, you need resources. Spreading the word about social responsibility will benefit everyone in the long run. These partnerships can truly make a difference in every community.

Communicating the impact social responsibility and volunteer grants can have on nonprofits can contribute to the social good movement.

Make it a priority for your nonprofit to market and communicate the benefits of corporate grants. This will help continue the growth of corporate donations and grants. Don’t miss out on this opportunity!


Ashley Chorpenning is VolunteerHub’s Marketing Communications Specialist.

Measuring your company's social impact

How to Measure Your Company’s Social Impact

Which statement has more impact?

“We donated $300 to a charity who feeds the hungry.”
“We fed a single mother’s family of four children for a week.”

Data and numbers have more meaning when they tell a story. But with hundreds or thousands of employees at your company, it becomes infinitely more difficult to pinpoint the overall social impact.

This post will provide strategies on how to measure your company’s impact with these tips:

  • The Importance of Measuring and Sharing Impact
  • Starting Simple to Determine Your Impact Area of Focus
  • Calculating Your Impact
  • Communicating Your Social Impact

It’s important to understand that you don’t need to change the world overnight.

You can begin by simply looking at one program or activity. Understanding what occurs and then tracking and analyzing that data can lead to a better understanding of how your company is positively impacting the world.

Learn how you can measure social impact.

The Importance of Measuring and Sharing Impact

Hopefully you agree that tangible results have more meaning than raw numbers, as in the example above.

But I’ll also explain three other reasons why measuring and sharing your social impact is important:

  • Impact demonstrates that a company is living up to its values and drives a more positive company image.
  • Impact increases employee engagement.
  • Impact can highlight a company’s contribution to greater civic engagement programs such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and IMPACT 2030.

Many companies have values but don’t always show with concrete results how they are living up to this mission.

Providing impact results can back up the social responsibility value claims your company makes. This has the added advantage of boosting public perceptions of a company.

Managers go to great lengths to motivate employees, reduce turnover, and increase employees general work ethic and morale. Yet it’s proven that employees engage more with an employer who practices social responsibility.

79% of people prefer to work for a socially conscious company.

Communicating or publishing impact successes can do wonders to boost employee morale which has major impacts on the bottom line.

Sharing impact also illustrates the company’s collaboration with and contribution to larger movements. One organizational effort in particular, IMPACT 2030, which I’ll discuss in a later section, is a great way to get involved in the larger sustainable community.

Most company goals already align with the SDGs — it’s just a matter of discovering yours. It also offers an opportunity to connect with customers or vendors who also share the same goals.

Measuring social impact for nonprofits is about starting slow.

Starting Simple to Determine Your Impact Area of Focus

Before calculating your impact, it’s important to define or determine the social mission. Consider both your company’s and your employees’ social goals to define one specific impact area to focus on at a time.

What does your company already say it cares about? Is community engagement, making a difference in local communities or caring for others or the planet part of your company’s values or culture? Does your company focus on a specific cause or have a history of rallying around one event or non-profit organization?

You could also consider which nonprofits or organizations you already support. Perhaps you could choose your impact measurement based on which non-profit received the most funds from your company. It could be as simple as that.

While the company mission is the guiding rudder, the culture of the employees are the oars that keep the boat rowing.

Where are they donating their money, time, and resources? Use the causes of your employees to appeal to what matters to the people who define your company and culture.

By looking at both your company’s mission and the culture, you’ll find one area of focus to help you calculate and share your impact.

Learn how your organization should measure social impact.

Calculating Your Impact

Next comes the numbers. This section will explain best practices for measuring company effort, as well as give examples for how to determine what kind of real world impact results from the company’s CSR efforts.

Check on a nonprofit organization’s website or reach out to them directly to find out how they calculate dollars into tangible impact.

Nonprofits give estimates to help you total up these numbers. For example, Smile Train estimates they create one “new smile,” or cleft palate surgery, for every $X donated. This makes calculations simple.

But what about other organizations who might focus on more abstract or less measurable goals, like medical research?

This become more difficult to measure. We always recommend reaching out to an organization to develop relationships and work together to determine impact numbers in this case.

If you work with a select charity aligned with a broader company goal, then get those charities engaged to help you measure the specific impact of volunteering or dollars on your combined goals – for example, number of students mentored, increase in test score year over year for same group, or amount of water cleaned.

Your CSR provider should have tools to better track and report on your company’s impact numbers. Here are some additional tips on using CSR software to your advantage: 

  • Consider adding a question to the admin panel that gathers impact data for all volunteer events.
  • Consider adding a post event survey to gather additional quantitative data, like number of students mentored, read to, or tutored.

A part of social impact is communicating with your donors.

Communicating Your Social Impact

By being creative in the way you communicate your company’s impact, you can receive the benefits outlined above. You should communicate this both internally and externally.

Here are some ideas:

Internally:

  • Include digital signage on your CSR platform.
  • Create a voting campaign to recognize and maybe even reward employees or teams contributing the most to a specific goal. The reward can be a corporate donation or cause card.
  • Include the numbers, stories, and recognition in executive all-hands meetings or communications.

Externally:

  • Generate an engaging end-of-year report (Dell does a great job of this).
  • Create a social impact page on your website.
  • Write a press release/blog.
  • Create branding or stories for conferences, sales meetings, and on the wall at the office.

Conclusion

None of this is possible if you aren’t tracking the efforts of your company and its employees and if you haven’t first considered the impact the activities or dollars create.

Whatever your company size, it’s critical to measure the good that you do.

So whether you’re tracking giving, volunteering, and grants in an excel spreadsheet, or using a powerful CSR software platform, the point remains. Having a CSR tool that makes sense for your company size is critical.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to:

  • Prove you’re acting on your sustainable values.
  • Build employee morale with engagement.
  • Contribute to larger social forces.

For inspiration, check out Double the Donation’s list of 10 Companies Doing Corporate Philanthropy Right.



Blaine McGaffiganBlaine McGaffigan is a Content Marketing Specialist who brings over 5 years of digital marketing experience to YourCause. He strives for creativity in all projects, and believes a unique and sincere voice is critical for engagement. In his free time, you can find him kayaking the river, taking photographs, and reading comics.

Simply put, YourCause, LLC is a technology company connecting corporations and their employees with the causes they care most about. Our SaaS-based CSRconnect Platform is a fully hosted and managed solution used to engage employees in volunteering, giving, and sustainability initiatives, along with helping grants administrators manage corporate and foundation philanthropic programs. We currently support over 4.2 million employees in 160+ countries at more than 140 Fortune 1000 companies. Since inception, we’ve processed nearly $1.5B to charities and tracked over 23M volunteer hours – that’s 2,625 years! The companies partnering with us are joining the YourCause Global Good Network, representing some of the most committed corporate citizens and dedicated nonprofits around the world.

How to Use Crowdfunding to Engage the “Middle” Segment of Donors

America's Charities 2017 Snapshot survey is the first ever look into corporate giving trends from the donors themselves.

Do Matching Gifts Inspire Employee Giving?

Are employees more motivated to donate to nonprofits if their employer is willing to match their gift?

Thousands of companies across the United States offer this incentive to employees through “matching gift programs.” In fact, two-thirds of employers surveyed in America’s Charities’ 2015 Snapshot Report indicate they match employee payroll contributions. That’s a 62% increase since 2006. Yet, $6-$10 billion of corporate matching gift money goes unclaimed each year.

Why the gap? That is one thing America’s Charities is trying to figure out with the Snapshot 2017 survey – and that’s where you come in!

America’s Charities’ Snapshot Series reports on trends, attitudes and perceptions in employee workplace giving. Having explored these trends from the perspective of employers (Snapshot 2015 and Snapshot 2013) and nonprofits (Snapshot 2014), Snapshot 2017 will offer a first-ever look at trends in employee giving from the perspective of donors. Our researchers are surveying employee donors to learn about what they value, how they make decisions about giving, and how giving through the workplace impacts their overall charitable endeavors.

America's Charities 2017 Snapshot survey is the first ever look into corporate giving trends from the donors themselves.

Consisting of just 10 multiple choice questions, here’s how you can participate in the Snapshot 2017 survey:

Donors:

This is your chance to share your giving preferences and what role you expect employers to play in supporting your ability to give time, talent, and/or money to nonprofits and causes inside and outside the workplace. Click the following link to take the survey now http://impact.ac/2ljOkdy. Your feedback will be used to help employers and nonprofits shape the future of workplace giving, volunteering, and other corporate philanthropic initiatives. Responses will be confidential and anonymous and shared later this year in America’s Charities’ Snapshot 2017 report.

Employers:

This survey is an opportunity to gain a better understanding of what your employees value and expect through employee giving, matching gifts, volunteering and other corporate giving initiatives. You can share this link with your employees http://impact.ac/2ljOkdy or, upon your request, we will give you a unique survey URL to distribute to your employees, so you’ll have your organization’s full dataset to benchmark against the larger field’s response, which will be available this fall.

Nonprofits:

This survey can be used as a listening tool to help you gain a better understanding of what your donors value about giving and volunteering programs. You can share this link with your donors http://impact.ac/2ljOkdy or, upon your request, we will give you a unique survey URL to distribute to your donors, so you’ll have your organization’s full dataset to benchmark against the larger field’s response, which will be available this fall. For your convenience, we’ve created a promotional toolkit to assist with your donor communications, complete with content for social media, donor emails and your website.

Interested in a unique survey URL or have a question about the survey?

Please email Lindsay Nichols, America’s Charities VP, Marketing and Communications, at lnichols@charities.org. She can provide your with a unique survey link and answer your Snapshot 2017 survey questions.

Boost Membership Engagement in 7 Steps

Boost Membership Engagement in 7 Steps

If you want to grow and maintain your membership program, you’ll likely spend a large chunk of your time planning and executing some sort of membership engagement plan.

Unfortunately, because “membership engagement” is such a broad concept, it’s tough to get your strategy right on the first try (or even after many tries!).

Lucky for you, we’ve made tackling the membership engagement issue a little less tricky. Here, we’ll provide you with 7 simple steps for increasing your organization’s membership engagement.

Here’s a preview of the subjects we’ll cover:

  1. Define membership engagement.
  2. Understand your members.
  3. Communicate consistently.
  4. Establish online engagement spaces.
  5. Prioritize community-building.
  6. Streamline the member renewal experience.
  7. Track your membership engagement efforts.

Pretty soon, you’ll be a master of membership engagement (and you’ll have the member retention rates to show for it)!

Still in the planning phase of your new membership organization? Read our guide to starting a nonprofit membership program first!

Define Membership Engagement

1. Define membership engagement.

Before you can begin engaging your members in an effective way, you’ll need to figure out exactly what you hope to accomplish.

Membership engagement can take many forms, and if your team isn’t all on the same page with your expectations, you’ll find it much harder to accomplish anything.

So, take a few minutes to review your current engagement level and determine a few tangible goals for the future. Perhaps you want to:

  • Increase attendance at membership events.
  • Boost volunteer involvement.
  • Encourage more participation in online communities.

Your engagement marker might be totally different than another organization’s, and that’s okay! Be sure that your goals reflect the needs and interests of your members and your organization, and you’ll be able to reach new heights sooner than you think.

Start your member stewardship strategy on the right foot with membership software that offers robust member profiles. The more your organization or association knows about its members, the more targeted your stewardship strategies can be!

Understand Your Members

2. Understand your members.

How can you cater to your members’ personalities if you’re not well acquainted with them? The short answer: you can’t.

That’s why it’s extremely important for you to get to know your members on a personal level. If you don’t, your engagement strategies run the risk of being generic and unappealing to your constituents.

It might seem like a daunting task to get to know each one of your many members on a one-on-one basis, but fortunately, your organization likely already has a tool on hand to make it much easier.

That tool? Your membership management software, of course!

With powerful membership management software (also known as association management software), you’ll be able to manage member data more effectively and leverage it to its full potential.

Not only will software help you stay organized, but it’s the only way you can get a full picture of your members’ participation and giving history in one centralized location.

With a knowledge of members’ interests, preferences, past involvement, and giving habits, you’ll be able to plan engagement opportunities that actually make sense for them—without any of the hassle of manual data management! 

Bonus: Still searching for the right association management software for your organization? Check out our list of the best tools before you start shopping around!

Communicate Consistently

3. Communicate consistently.

Your members joined your organization or association because they’re personally invested in your efforts.

As your most devoted supporters, they deserve to be kept in the loop on your organization’s projects and your community’s trends and hot topics. 

To that end, you should be regularly communicating with your members in any (or all!) of the following ways:

  • Email newsletters.
  • Participation acknowledgements.
  • In-person forums and events.
  • Social media updates.
  • Personal outreach.

By staying active in your members’ lives through regular communication efforts, you’ll remind them of their interest in your organization and encourage them to participate themselves.  

As important as it is for your organization to get the word out about important updates, it’s equally important that your members have a place to communicate, too!

Make sure your members know that your team is always accessible should they want to voice concerns, ask questions, or provide feedback. You can also send out surveys asking for targeted feedback on a regular basis, or host events dedicated to member-leadership interaction.

Establish Online Engagement Spaces

4. Establish online engagement spaces.

If you want to connect with your donors in real-time, it’s essential that you meet them where they already are. One of the easiest ways to do that is by taking advantage of the many different forms of digital communication.

There are two main online spaces you’ll want to focus on when maximizing membership engagement:

  1. Your organization’s website.
  2. Social media pages.

Let’s talk through each one individually.

Website

Often, your software will be able to generate custom member-specific webpages and constituent portals to incorporate with your organization’s website.

Not only do you want your website to be informative for any and all visitors, but you also want it to provide an engaging experience designed specifically for your members.

When building (or editing) your site, make sure you’ve got all the following bases covered:

  • A user-friendly member portal.
  • Well-branded design that reflects your organization.
  • Online giving capabilities.
  • Member self-management tools (e.g., member profiles, renewal options, event sign-up).
  • A prominently displayed application page.

Most importantly, make sure your website is a source of all your organization’s most important information, from upcoming event details to relevant news in your community.

Bonus: Your membership site should be the hub of your organization, so don’t forget to use it to drive recruitment, too. Optimize your online application form for minimum donor abandonment with our guide to crafting the perfect donor application form.

Social Media

Almost every organization has a Facebook or Twitter account set up these days, but simply using social media is very different than actually using it well.

The first step to engaging members on social media is finding out which sites appeal to them (and which just don’t catch their attention).

Consider your organization’s demographic. Is your roster full of suit-and-tie professionals? You might thrive by setting up an organizational LinkedIn page. Is your group teeming with crafty moms and DIY fanatics? You might find your home on a Pinterest board.

If you’re still lost, turn to your member management software. Since some platforms have social matching features, you might be able to scour your database to find out which social media networks your members are actively using.

Once you’ve found your ideal environment, keep the following in mind:

  • Know the limitations of your platform. What works for Twitter just won’t transfer to Facebook, so understand the constraints of each site before you start posting.
  • Keep it visual. On almost every social media channel, visual elements are absolutely key. Keep your posts eye-catching by adding photos, videos, and graphics wherever you can.
  • Diversify! While your main audience might love Instagram, you might be able to cater to another group through Google Plus. Find out your members’ preferences and try to meet them in as many places as you can.

Effective social media engagement is more challenging than you might think, but the payoff is definitely worth the effort!

Prioritize Community-Building

5. Prioritize community-building.

Membership programs are unique in that they can create a thriving community based around shared goals, interests, and values.

Think about it: when an individual chooses to donate to or volunteer for a nonprofit, they might meet like-minded individuals at community service events or fundraisers, but more often than not, their involvement is a solo activity.

But when they sign up for the nonprofit’s membership program, they’re immediately met with a collective of others with similar passions!

Make sure your members are aware of the vibrant community within your membership program, and do your part to foster community-building whenever you can. 

Design online and in-person opportunities that facilitate member-to-member engagement, from starting a discussion in an online forum to hosting a member mixer filled with interactive activities for your guests. Get creative with it!

When your members are engaged with one another, they’ll be more connected to your organization overall (and they’ll be much more likely to participate in member activities when they know they have friendly faces to join them!). 

Optimize the Member Renewal Experience

6. Streamline the renewal experience.

So far, we’ve been discussing how to keep your members engaged throughout their membership. However, there is another aspect of membership engagement that we can’t ignore: the member renewal process!

No matter how involved your members are, if they don’t sign up for another year, you’ve got some membership engagement problems to address. 

To make sure your members are excited to come back to your organization year after year, you should ensure that the renewal process is as simple and straightforward as possible. Consider implementing one (or more) of the following strategies:

  • Automated renewal. Some software providers allow you to set up automated renewal reminders or even provide members with the option of recurring membership fee payments. Never let a member lapse due to forgetfulness again!
  • Optimize your application process. Whether they’re applying for the first time or renewing for another year, your members should have no issue completing their application form. Optimize their experience by creating a form that’s user-friendly and easily accessible.
  • Encourage additional giving. Give your members options for adding extra donations on top of their membership dues by using your membership management software’s built-in donation tools (or integrating with another online giving tool). Plus, give them the option to upgrade their membership level during the renewal process.

Bonus: Need some guidance before you send your next round of member renewal letters? Take a look at Fundly’s handy guide!

Track Your Membership Engagement Efforts

7. Track your membership engagement efforts.

As you implement different member engagement strategies within your organization, some efforts will inevitably see better results than others.

To make sure you’re moving forward (and that mistakes don’t repeat themselves), you’ll need to be able to track and analyze your engagement in a meaningful way. 

Thankfully, membership management software can make such a task much more doable. In fact, depending on your platform, you may be able to:

  • Create custom reports. Find and assess the data you need by building your own reports using any information in your database. Then, easily share them with your team or constituents as needed.
  • Quickly view fiscal data. Don’t waste time wondering which members have paid their dues; instead, get a comprehensive view of your fiscal situation in as little as one click.
  • Evaluate event success. Assess event registration and attendance, view payment records, and compare overall success between multiple events to see which are worth revisiting next year.

When you use powerful membership management software to handle all your reporting needs, you’ll be able to easily gain insight into your engagement success and use that knowledge to prepare for the future.


Needless to say, developing a successful membership engagement strategy is a major undertaking for any organization. But with these tips in mind, you’ll be able to confidently navigate all of your future membership engagement endeavors!

For more ways to engage supporters through your membership program, take a look at these additional resources: