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Make Donor Engagement Plans Work for You

As fundraisers know, every donor is unique – with different motivations, methods of engaging, and communication preferences. Fundraisers also know that donor retention requires a plan and gifts (unfortunately) do not tend to renew themselves. If they did, fundraising work would be much easier! Once a donor has made their initial gift, it is important to continue to steward their relationship with your organization. This is where engagement planning and new Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) features come into play.

What is a donor engagement plan? An engagement plan is simply the set of touch points used to keep a supporter engaged after their donation. When executed correctly, it makes future asks infinitely easier! Engagement plans can include follow-up calls, emails, event invitations, and more. Most engagement plans are established with a 12-18 month view.  These plans can – and should – be differentiated to best steward unique segments of your donor base. You can differentiate by motivation, by level of giving, by areas of interest…the list goes on.

What are the benefits of creating engagement plans?

  • They provide a consistent stewardship experience, which deepens the relationship that a donor has with your organization
  • They ensure that donors are not forgotten or overlooked
  • Plans provide a sustainable stewardship template and cadence of the year for your team to follow

While it is important that nonprofits tailor cultivation strategies to their unique and special donors, it can be – at times – daunting to create, execute, and track individualized plans. The larger your portfolio, the more challenging this process becomes. The NPSP has created an improved way to track everything in a single place.

How can Salesforce help?

Salesforce recently released two NPSP features that combined, can streamline the engagement planning process and take the headache out of managing moving pieces: Engagement Plans and Levels. Please note, for access you will need NPSP 3.81 or a later release.

Engagement Plans – This new feature allows portfolio managers to outline all of the tasks (emails, phone calls, events) that a donor should receive, and intervals during which these should occur. Move over, Excel – NPSP Engagement Plans are here to stay. For instance, once John Doe makes a gift, we may want to follow up within 48 hours with a tax acknowledgement letter and within a week with a personalized “thank you” phone call. These items are established as tasks within an Engagement Plan. As was mentioned previously, the best plans take a longer term view of a relationship with a donor and Salesforce allows you to build out donors’ experiences with your organization over a predetermined span of time.

Once Engagement Plans have been created, you can assign them to an individual donor or a group of donors. However, not everyone requires the same level of stewardship. Therefore, Salesforce enables you to create multiple Engagement Plans. For example, you can have a robust set of tasks assigned to Major Gift donors, and a simplified version of that plan for your Young Professional Committee. The tasks can be differentiated to best fit the segment of donors that you need to steward.

Engagement plans provide fundraisers with flexibility:

  • You can determine whether the task due dates are triggered a set number of days from the start of the Engagement Plan, or a set number of days from the parent task being executed. The latter are called “Dependent tasks” because they are dependent on the completion of previous tasks.
  • If a task falls on a weekend, you can create rules that reschedules the task for the following Monday.
  • To simplify the creation of Engagement Plans, you can clone and edit an existing plan and all of its associated tasks.
  • You can easily move donors from one engagement plan to another. For example, if a donor who typically gives $5,000 suddenly upgrades to a leadership gift of $100,000 (we can dream, right?), you could move them to the Major Gifts engagement plan. Levels, outlined below, can automate this process.

Levels-  Levels are another new NPSP feature, which work seamlessly with Engagement Plans.

Levels allow you to easily define a donor’s level of commitment and engagement to your organization. You can establish tiers based on criteria that you define, such as lifetime giving or size of most recent gift. Levels can be set and named in accordance with your organization’s existing structure and assigned to records either manually or automatically. For instance, perhaps your organization has “Bronze”, “Silver”, and “Gold” levels.

  • Bronze – gifts between $0-$500
  • Silver – gifts between $501-$5000
  • Gold – gifts of $5,001+

You can link these Levels to existing Engagement Plans. If John Doe was a Bronze level sponsor, and then upgraded his gift to $1,000, Salesforce would automatically upgrade him to the Silver Engagement Plan. Brilliant!

Management of this process is simple. Once Engagement Plans are created and employed, tasks will show up on the home page of the staff member to whom they are assigned. Dashboards can help track upcoming tasks and ensure that no actions are overlooked. Completed and open tasks will also appear on donor records, under the “Open Activities” and “Activity History” related lists. Piece of cake.

These new NPSP features help fundraisers create meaningful cultivation plans for donors, without burning out. And with all of this information tracked in Salesforce, you preserve valuable institutional knowledge, allowing you to more strategically deepen relationships with your donors.

As fundraisers become more savvy, Salesforce is the relationship management tool of choice– from prospect identification, to closing a gift, and every stewardship step in between. If you need help getting started with Engagement Plans, reach out to our Cloud for Good team!

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