Engagement feels like an all-pervasive buzzword right now. It can seem somewhat intangible, but at it’s best, it’s an approach that recognises the multiple ways an individual may interact with and support your organisation.
From petitions to surveys or attending meetings and events, to becoming a donor or member – engagement is about speaking to an individual’s motivations and valuing everything they can do to further your cause.
But how has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the way we engage with supporters online?
Many organisations have quickly shifted gear, moving the activity to be about COVID-19 or at least use the virus as a lens through which to position their work.
The best engagement campaigns that I’ve seen have been those which meets people where they are. They speak to the personal worries of the individual or their wider social concerns. Shoe-horning COVID-19 into what you would have otherwise been doing simply won’t cut it.
Applying existing learning in a time of crisis
To motivate people with your cause, most of the usual rules still apply. Petitions, surveys and value exchange product are great ways to involve people before warming them up and going in for the conversion ask. But it’s time to think laterally and responsively. What is your role during the crisis? How does the supporter or member play a part in it?
Engagement is about viewing your supporters or members as more than just passive donors. It’s nurturing and appreciating the value they add in terms of creating change and raising awareness as well as providing income.
It’s crucially important at a time like this to meet your audience where they are. What are their greatest concerns during the pandemic and how do these cut across your work?
Recognising personal challenges and struggles
Donating to causes is often a simple way for people to feel empowered during a time like this when it’s easy to feel disempowered and isolated. Pitching donating to or joining an organisation as concrete form of action to take is a great way to engage the individual.
But to me, one of the most important things to do right now is to recognise the challenges your audience is facing. If ever there was a time to bring people on for a lower initial amount it’s now. If ever there was a time to change up your offer to give more back to the donor it’s now. It may hit your initial ROI for acquisition campaigns but taking this approach and making your organisation as accessible as possible will bring huge rewards in the long term.
Your unique selling point during the crisis
Several months into the crisis it’s more important than ever to clearly articulate your USP in everything you do. How are you tackling an increased challenge as a result of COVID-19? What part of your response will resonate with donors the most?
It may seem like an obvious point to make, but with a background of so much noise and every other organisation facing the challenges of the pandemic, it’s important to stand out.
Thank your donors
At times of sacrifices and stress like this, it’s even more important to thank donors. Stream it through all your communications and send standalone thank you messages too. It will never hurt. Cultivating the sense of belonging, the sense of community and the feeling that the donor is making a difference and furthering the cause will help build loyalty now and beyond the pandemic. It may be an obvious point, but it’s so easily overlooked with pressures of generating new and engaging content for your audience.
Engagement isn’t just petitions, or surveys, or value exchange. It’s a truly supporter focused approach that builds narratives, creates communities of support and fundamentally sees the value of the supporter as more than just their donation. At such a challenging time, taking this approach will allow you to meet individuals where they are and speak to their concerns for themselves and others, creating benefit all round.