Engagement: What is it and why is it so important?

Friday, November 22, 2019

Any successful nonprofit will tell you that their success can be attributed to their most loyal supporters.  Who am I talking about?  I’m talking about donors, members, volunteers, and advocates.  Those that have been successful also will tell you that without building a solid foundation with your supporters, it will be hard work to keep them around.  A key to helping you build and create those long-lasting relationships is making sure that your organization has an engagement mindset. 

So, what is engagement?

Engagement, at its root, is the emotional connection that your supporters feel towards your organization.   Engagement is impactful, personal and authentic communications, and relational.  Engagement isn’t impact-lacking reports or emails, generic social media posts, or transactional.  And every interaction that we have with our supporters opens the door for us to truly engage with them.

Why is engagement important?

Successful engagement helps us to focus on what is really important to our supporters, such as their passions and interests.  Our supporters are diverse and have different motivations to connect with our organization.  The more that we engage with them and understand them, the more that we are strengthening the foundation of our relationship with them and growing their emotional attachment to our organization.

Engagement helps us bolster our donor/member/volunteer retention rates.  According to IMPACTS data analytics:

  • It costs organizations around $5 to retain a supporter vs. about $23 to acquire a new one
  • Retained supporters’ value over a 5-year period is more than 35% of that of a new supporter. 
  • In net revenue terms, retained supporters had an average net value of more than 66% over that a newly acquired supporter.

In other words, engagement can lead to a more stable financial situation. More importantly, meaningful engagement creates loyalty and long-lasting relationships between organizations and their supporters that sometimes may transcend generations.

So you might be asking yourself, what’s next?  Stay tuned for the next installment in our series: The 5 Basics of Engagement: Success is a Multi-Step Process, but in the meantime ask yourself “if I could do one thing that could deepen my relationships with my supporters, what would it be?”.

Written by Jessica Cooper, Client Account Manager