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How to Develop a Donor Engagement Strategy

How to Develop a Donor Engagement Strategy

By developing a donor engagement strategy, you will have the best chance to reach your campaign goals by the deadline.

Before you launch your crowdfunding campaign, you’ll need to develop a donor engagement strategy. The goal of your donor engagement strategy is to plan how you will cultivate, solicit, and steward donors. Your strategy will be a detailed plan outlining who you will reach out to for donations, who is responsible for donor outreach, when you will start donor outreach, and how you will communicate with donors. By developing a donor engagement strategy prior to your campaign launch, you will have the best chance to reach your campaign goals by the deadline!

In this guide, we’ll walk you through:

  • How to Develop a Donor List
  • Who is Responsible for Donor Outreach
  • When You Should Start Donor Outreach
  • How You Should Communicate with Donors

How to Develop a Donor List

Your donor list will be key to launching a successful crowdfunding campaign. You will want to start developing your donor list early on in advance of your campaign. Developing your donor list in advance of your campaign launch will allow you to build relationships and spread the word about your project before it even gets started. You don’t want to surprise your donors! Instead, you want to prepare them to give once your campaign is live.

When building a donor list, you’ll want to consider the following questions to brainstorm individuals, businesses, or organizations that might be interested in supporting your campaign.

Ask yourself:

  • Who are the project stakeholders?
  • Who will the project impact or benefit?
  • Who in my community has shared interests or values?
Ypsilanti Heritage Mural Project
Ypsilanti Heritage Mural Project

A great place to start building your donor list is with your friends and family. They are your support system and likely have shared interests or values with what you are hoping to build in your community through your crowdfunding campaign. In addition to providing financial support, as trusted confidants they can help you to refine your pitch for requesting donations.

If you are a nonprofit, consider your existing donors.

If you are a small business, consider your existing customers and patrons.

Depending on your campaign, you might also consider requesting donations from:

  • Local community foundations or nonprofit organizations
  • Clubs or groups, such as a historical society, alumni associations, or neighborhood associations
  • Local or county tourism organizations
  • City Community Development or Economic Development organizations
  • Religious organizations
  • Local corporations or small businesses

Make sure to consider who in your community might be able to support the campaign with high dollar donations. It is appropriate to ask for commitments for donations in advance of your campaign to start with a bang on launch day!

Remember, you want to reach as many potential donors as possible, so make your donor list long! This will allow you and your team to cast a wide net and reach as many people as possible.

Patronicity Project Creator Donor List Template spreadsheet.
Use the Patronicity Project Creator Donor List Template to create your list of contacts.

The Patronicity Project Creator Donor List Template spreadsheet will help you develop your donor list with your team.

Who is Responsible for Donor Outreach

Depending on the size of your team, the individual or group responsible for donor engagement and outreach may look different. However, the role and responsibilities of donor outreach remain the same.

Read more about How to Build a Powerhouse Crowdfunding Team on our blog.

Outside of your core team, community influencers can be a great way to expand your reach. These influencers could be social media influencers or community influencers, like local elected officials, television personalities, or business owners! Think outside the box and connect with individuals that have a unique interest in your campaign. They can help you to spread the word on your campaign and encourage others to donate, expanding your donor list.

When You Should Start Donor Outreach

Whoever on your team is assigned to donor outreach will want to reach out to individuals and organizations on your donor list in advance of your campaign launch and request their support, whether by sharing your campaign, volunteering, or giving. Again, your campaign shouldn’t surprise them!

We recommend you start your donor outreach three to four weeks before your campaign officially launches. This will ensure that your community knows your campaign is coming, and allow them to prepare their wallets!

When you reach out, be specific about how you would like their support and provide clear details on the campaign and launch date. For them to feel prepared to donate and spread the word, they’ll need to know exactly what the campaign is supporting and where they donate. Be sure to thank them for their support and for helping to spread the word.

How You Should Communicate with Donors

Communication is key to building a positive relationship with your donors. Your goal is to nurture and engage your donors.

We recommend creating community outreach materials in advance of your campaign. Before you launch, there are a variety of printed and online outreach materials that you should prepare. Because your campaign will last between 30 to 60 days, this doesn’t give you a lot of time to create materials while you are crowdfunding. That’s why it’s so important to develop these materials with your team in advance.

You want to have these materials on hand before launch day:

  • Solicitation emails asking people to donate to the crowdfunding campaign
  • Personal or group emails asking people to spread the word
  • Thank you emails to donors, including encouragement to share about the campaign
  • Email newsletters for your organization or small business
  • Social Media posts about your crowdfunding campaign
  • Handouts, such as posters, postcards, or business cards with information on your project
  • Press releases ready to send to local papers, new stations, or blogs

We recommend you write from the heart. You know your project the best, so show others why they should care and why it is so important for your community. If you’re unsure how to get started, your Patronicity Project Coach can help you craft meaningful donor communications.

Don’t forget to keep up your communication with donors after they donate! Send a personalized thank you. Show your donors how important their donation was to your project and how their donation will or has impacted the community.

Indy Dog Park ribbon cutting ceremony
Indy Dog Park ribbon cutting ceremony

Sources and Additional Resources