How to Future-Proof Your Digital Engagement Strategies

Javan Van Gronigen

November 21, 2022

About the Author

Javan Van Gronigen

As Founder and Creative Director of Fifty & Fifty, Javan is the tip of the proverbial spear. Javan started his digital design career 20 years ago as Art Director for what is now one of the world’s largest digital agencies (Mirum, a JWT Company). He then moved on to Invisible Children where he was responsible for managing the team and all digital assets through the entire historic Kony 2012 campaign. At Fifty & Fifty, Javan has participated in and led every project, including 300+ websites, campaigns, and brands.

As a nonprofit professional, you understand that fundraising is important in the short and long run. While you might run small campaigns to address time-sensitive needs, building out your sources of sustainable funding is important for long-term growth. 

The best way to do this is by consistently maintaining and deepening your relationships with donors. That’s where digital engagement comes in.

The purpose of engagement is to deepen relationships, and that can be tricky through a screen. However, digital channels offer you new opportunities to stay connected and encourage participation in your programs and fundraisers. Here are some tech-savvy ways to future-proof your digital engagement tactics:

The online world changes more every day, so it’s critical that you evolve your digital engagement strategies to optimize the donor experience. Let’s explore how to make your digital engagement efforts stand the test of time. 

1. Design an accessible website

As the online hub for all things your nonprofit, your website is one of the first places your supporters will go for updates and engagement opportunities. It’s your job to keep your site as accessible as possible to engage the maximum amount of prospective supporters that visit your site. 

According to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), an accessible website must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust for all users, regardless of their abilities. This means working within your website’s backend to add accessible features to your content. Here are some easy ways to optimize your website based on WCAG guidelines:

  • Perceivable: Your content should be presentable in numerous formats. For example, for visual-reliant content, provide text alternatives (alt text) and captions that screen readers can read. Use strong color contrast on your website so the text is more visible.  
  • Operable: All of your site’s functionality should be accessible via keyboard. This means including an intuitive page navigation system. Also, don’t include flashing lights in your design. They can induce seizures in some people.
  • Understandable: The text must be legible and comprehensible for all audiences. This means making content appear in logical and predictable ways, such as reading from the top of the page down or from left to right. 
  • Robust: Ensure that your CMS is equipped with the proper accessibility tools to make these changes possible. It should also be compatible with current and future tools used to view your website.

According to Fifty & Fifty, not only will these improvements boost your digital engagement potential, but they will also enhance your website’s overall performance. Take proactive steps to assess your website’s current accessibility features and what to improve. You might also ask your supporters to recommend changes based on their own experiences with your website. 

2. Embrace mobile channels

Mobile web traffic has surpassed desktop traffic and shows no signs of slowing down. Harness mobile channels to engage this massive audience. Here are some digital channels you can leverage to connect with your supporters and prospective donors:

  • Mobile-optimize your website. To accommodate your mobile website visitors, ensure that your pages and images resize appropriately.
  • Try outreach over text. You can use third-party apps to send your supporters messages over text. Text blasting provides more visibility than email blasts because your message won’t get caught in a spam folder.
  • Accept mobile pay options. Ensure that your online payment processor accepts mobile wallet options, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay.

Today, attention spans are low, and convenience is critical. Mobile engagement channels align with these needs, allowing supporters to interact with you without needing to put their phones away

3. Use social media donation platforms

You likely already use social media to connect with your donors, but there are even more features you can leverage to boost engagement and fundraising revenue through these platforms. The online fundraising sphere has been revolutionized with social media fundraising capabilities, programs that allow your donors to give straight to your campaign without leaving the app. 

With over $5 billion donated through its site, Facebook’s fundraiser tool is popular, profitable, and user-friendly. To use this tool, simply create a campaign page, get it approved by Facebook, and post it live. From there, your supporters will see the page on their feed and can donate straight through the website. Its simplicity motivates your followers to donate and share the campaign with their own network. Plus, your nonprofit will keep 100% of the profits, making this an entirely positive change.

4. Shift to hybrid events 

Online events surged in popularity due to the pandemic, and they’re here to stay due to their flexibility and user-friendliness. However, if some of your supporters want to attend in person, you can compromise by hosting a hybrid event

If you’re unsure which type you’d like to pursue, consider these dynamic event options:

  • Webinar or panel. There are numerous webinars and panels that feature thought leaders in the nonprofit sphere. Join that growing number by hosting your own panel or webinar on a topic your supporters care about. To make it hybrid, invite your speakers and supporters to attend either in person or online. This allows people from across the country to tune in. 
  • Meet-and-greet event. A great way to build community within your donor and beneficiary base is to host a meet-and-greet. Allowing your donors to interact directly with the people they’re supporting humanizes your cause and deepens their emotional connection to your nonprofit. 
  • Fundraising event. Say you have an in-person silent auction benefit planned. You can accommodate your donors who can’t attend in person by moving all bidding to an online platform. That way you’ll remove barriers to participation and increase engagement from a broader audience. Consider how you can adapt other fundraising events to this format.

Hybrid fundraising ideas are mutually beneficial for both your nonprofit and your supporters. Many video conferencing platforms have free options for small events and paid versions for larger ones. Regardless of the platform you use, you’ll be spending less on in-person meeting components, such as large venues and food. Remember to publicize the hybrid components of your events so more supporters attend.

Wrapping Up

If you want more in-depth support beyond these in-house digital engagement tips, consider working with a nonprofit marketing agency. They’ll create a long-term plan to help you boost your engagement online based on your goals. Plus, they understand the unique outreach needs of nonprofits and tailor their support accordingly. As long as you consistently evolve your digital engagement strategies, you’ll reach the right audience.

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