Your long-term donor engagement strategy should include more virtual components than it did before the pandemic. How much more will depend on what you learn across the next year.
Many organizations saw a solid return on investment in virtual efforts during the pandemic. We don’t yet know how well this success will translate when virtual engagement is not the only option. The answer is not simply “as well as virtual tactics worked before the pandemic” for two reasons. First, few development teams had made meaningful investment in virtual channels. Second, donors had yet to live through a prolonged period of time when so many routine interactions would become virtual.
The only way to figure out the right proportion of virtual and in-person tactics for your donor engagement strategy is to rigorously track process and outcome metrics. For example, update your definition of meaningful engagements with donors to include virtual visits and track related metrics such as: the number of meaningful engagements conducted virtually, time spent per virtual visit, and dollars-raised-to-goal trends.
Be sure to analyze the host of data generated by virtual engagement to further understand what’s attracting donors’ attention. Look at metrics including the relative open rate on emails, click rate on specific links, registration for virtual events, and actual attendance at those sessions.
If you regularly survey your donor population, ensure you are using the opportunity to understand when they would prefer to engage virtually versus in-person. Do they still want a hard copy of your annual report? Which events would they like to attend in person?
Expect donor preferences to change and evolve across the next year as we all navigate a return to pre-pandemic norms. Build in regular time to revisit your strategy and adjust it based on your data analysis.
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