How do you identify your most loyal supporters?

Is it by . . .

– number of donations each year
– number of years they’ve supported you
– average gift size
– life-time value
– whether they donate AND volunteer their time
– the variety of ways the engage with you (e.g., direct mail, email, attend special events, mobile, surveys, social media network, etc.)

These are all possibilities.  Traditionally “loyalty criteria” has centered on donations in some way.  That’s A-OKAY.

Today I want to encourage you to expand your thinking a bit. 

Consider this: Some of your most valuable and loyal donors (supporters) may not be the ones who give the most.

Within the social media world, for example, your most valuable supporters are likely to be those with the most influence.  [Note: The “most influence” doesn’t directly correlate with the “most followers.”] 

I’m referring to donors and supporters who spread the word about your nonprofit to their own network.  And they’re so respected by their network that people respond to their recommendations with enthusiasm. 

A few influencers can bring you many more donors which leads to more donations.   This is a form of grassroots fundraising!

What I’m saying is that although the influencer may only qualify as a low-dollar donor; their true value may be in bringing you several more donors from their network.  The “one” becomes “many.”  And the new donors they bring will likely be a mix of low, mid and possibly also major donors. 

That’s the value of an influencer.  This loyalty is worth a great deal. 

How do you make this happen for your nonprofit?

Five tips for working with influencers:

1 – Don’t try to “get” or “acquire” influencers to brag about you.  Instead “inspire” them to choose on their own to spread the word about your cause or special project.

2 – Create “valuable” content.  Produce compelling content they will value and naturally want to share.

3 – Infuse your content with emotion.  If you want an influencer to spread the word, they need an emotional connection.  Your content – in whatever media you use – has to make an emotional connection.  Inspire these people to become an evangelist for your cause.  Motivate them to genuinely desire to be an advocate on your behalf.  Stir up passion.

4 – Make it easy to share your content.  Easy to copy and paste into blogs; to share on Facebook; good headline and lead for Twitter; easy to send via email; and so forth.  EASY FOR THEM.

5 – Reward and recognize the good folks talking favorably about you and sharing your content.

Loyal supporters are valuable to your nonprofit.  Loyalty as measured by their donations … and also loyalty measured by their influence.  With social media and other digital capabilities, be sure to recognize and leverage all types of loyal supporters to your nonprofit.