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podcast: how to find new donors on Facebook with Whitney Brown

Have a hard time finding and keeping new donors? Not getting any responses from mailing appeals?

In this episode, Whitney Brown, digital director of Public Outreach, goes through each step of the donor journey and how you can use Facebook to get the best results. Learn how to find and target your donors, engage with them to develop an ask, and keep them giving over time - even with a small budget!

rethinking your strategy

What a lot of people don’t realize is that generally, you shouldn’t ask people to donate right away. The traditional method of donor acquisition where you send an appeal in the mail to a rented or borrowed list and hope for a response and relationship. Instead, Whitney suggests building the relationship into an ask.

let’s start at the beginning

You might wonder: how do we find people? Where do we start?

Whitney starts with choosing a campaign issue that is central to your organization’s mission and mandate. This issue must be compelling, urgent and relatable to draw your supporters in. Try thinking of an issue that may shock, surprise or pique their curiosity. Once you’ve got their attention, you can begin that one-to-one, personalized conversation.

In this conversation, you need a call to action. It’s great to share information, but you also need to make it actionable. This can be in the form of signing a petition to a decision maker, attending an event, watching a video, downloading a toolkit or even sharing any insights or opinions. The key is to make it urgent. Try placing a deadline or describing any consequences that can happen if you don’t meet the due date.

finding your audience

It’s important to note two different types of audiences: the supporters and those who benefit from the services.

Whitney suggests safely and securely make use of various data files. This means determining who has donated only once, recently, in a few years or on a monthly basis. Then, use these lists to create “look-alike” audiences using Facebook.

It is also crucial to understand how your audience prefers to get their communication from you - which can range from phone calls to emails. However, Whitney says that the most important piece of data to collect is their email. Whichever way works best for your organization, you should always strive to make it personalized. Different audience groups have different needs! Be sure not to use the same exact content with your audience groups.

the power of email

Unsure of what to do with your email list? Try creating a “welcome series” to introduce your supporter to your organization over a period of time. That way, you begin to prepare them for your fundraising ask down the line. Try a six email series over the course of 45 days.

In the series, they should learn about different parts of your organization. Try having various emails come from different people within your organization and let them add their own personalized touch to it. You can also reaffirm actions such as signing a petition or downloading a toolkit and provide them with more information and tools. Recognize and thank them as soon as they have contributed to you! At this point, they would already have contributed to your cause and will be more likely to donate once you send a formal ask.

If you ever feel awkward about sending too many emails, Whitney begs to differ! When your donor gets a personal email from the executive director, a program manager and so forth, you provide them with many voices and perspectives that all point to your organization offering them the chance to do great work.

be yourself

When you’re speaking to your donors, always do your best to speak as a person. Whitney recommends pretending to write emails to your friend when drafting one up for a supporter. The subject line doesn’t need to be formal - pick something quick, to the point and in a way that you would personally write.

When donors feel like they’re actually talking to a person, they are more receptive and trusting.

how to transition into an ask

The best way Whitney does this is by approaching her best, most responsive supporters. You can find this audience by looking at overall email engagements - those with the most engagement are not afraid to receive an ask. For instance, this can include those who consistently click on your emails.

Feeling shy to ask? Don’t be - Whitney even challenges us to ask (even more than once!) for specific donations if they have consistently engaged with us. Don’t forget to explain why you need a specific amount and why you need it urgently.

segmenting your list

The easiest way to segment your donors is by separating them into the following categories: one-time donors, regular donors, and non-donors.

Once you’ve done this, you need to be strategic with how you speak to them, what you speak to them about and what they understand about you. By doing so, you meet them where they are and getting a response to your ask will come much easier.

what about e-newsletters?

Many organizations learn on e-newsletters as a way to communicate with supporters - Whitney urges small nonprofit organizations to test whether or not this works with their audiences.

Create a regular content calendar of stuff that you know people will care about, even if it is content you’ve already posted or mentioned before. New supporters will be seeing that information for the first time, so don’t be afraid to recycle content especially if it is essential for them to know.

Be sure that your content calendar showcases your best work and think about when you want to send out that information throughout the year. This can be pre-scheduling four stories that are well loved by both you and your current supporters.

Your goal is to bring your supporters on a journey that leads them towards a path where they can become deeply involved in a cause they care about and feel acknowledged for it.

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You may also find it helpful to review our episode on Facebook Advertising with Sarah Ali

The Small Nonprofit is produced by Eloisa Jane Mariano