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Donor Engagement: Insights to Align With Your Donors’ Interests

Published by NX Unite

The quest to attract new donors and maintain the support of current ones challenges all nonprofits; therefore, it’s crucial to take time to reflect while formulating an engagement plan. Focusing on the basics of donor engagement has the power to increase the overall involvement and quality of the connection between your nonprofit and your supporters.

Rebekah Josefy, Vice President of Client Services at NextAfter, joined NXUnite’s  Engaged and Excited: Supporter Engagement Beyond Donationspanel. Fellow engagement experts, Rachel Kestner of VolunteerMatch, Wes Goldstein of Mobilize, and Yolanda Johnson of YFJ Consulting joined Rebekah in a discussion that emphasized the value of aligning with donors’ needs in order to maintain meaningful relationships and a successful engagement program.

Panelists shared three key strategies for aligning with the actual needs of your supporters:

  1. Customize your approach
  2. Ask them
  3. Nurture your community

Click here to watch NXUnite’s Engaged and Excited: Supporter Engagement Beyond Donations Panel

Tapping into your donor’s interests, gifts, and talents will help you identify what they are looking for when it comes to engagement. Yolanda Johnson, President of YFJ Consulting, stressed the importance of data for gaining insight into individuals’ motives for giving. Data helps with profile development, outreach customization, and tying donors more closely to the organization’s mission.

Your supporters’ thoughts, views, and insights should always be considered when developing an engagement strategy. Value transparency in your communications. Utilize the power of your CRM and take the time to write down what you learn. When you get to know your donors more deeply, it becomes easier for you and anyone in your organization to build relationships with your donors.

Ask them

Kick off those fruitful conversations so you can connect in ways that are meaningful to your supporters. Don’t just guess what they want! NextAfter’s Rebekah Josefy noted, “Ask [donors] directly and don’t make assumptions about what people care about, what’s appealing to them, how they want to be communicated with, and what types of content they are interested in.”

Uncovering your donors’ interests will focus your efforts and resources on initiatives that really matter to your supporters. This gives you the chance to communicate your nonprofit’s value proposition and encourage repeat giving in a way that feels natural to your audience.

Nurture your community

Get supporters interested. Build a community for people to come together and start a discussion to widen perspectives, expand engagement initiatives, and learn more about the folks supporting your mission.

Sometimes, the best ways to make your donors feel understood and appreciated require the least effort. Rebekah said, “The smallest touchpoints can sometimes be the most meaningful.” It’s true! It could be as simple as an email sharing your personal recap of the highlights of an event, a quick inside looks at what’s going on behind the curtain, or sharing impact communication that lets your supporters know what their donation empowers.


It’s no secret that people are more likely to give when they feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves, and it’s no surprise that the best way to build that sense of community is through consistent and meaningful touchpoints. Donor engagement is about aligning with the actual needs of your supporters and communicating with them in a way that feels like an honest exchange. Being authentic as an institution makes a more significant, holistic impact.

Published by NX Unite