AHP Connect Articles

AHP Connect delivers updates on industry news and research, educational and professional opportunities, best practices and other articles related to health care philanthropy.

The Secret to Motivating Social Donors

Samantha Hunter
Published:  07/06/2021
Pink piggy bank against a white background
Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

Social giving, especially within the healthcare industry, has increased over the past 12 months. This is especially true when it comes to younger donors and minority donors according to a study conducted by Edge Research. It found that the number of social donors that self-reported they plan to give monthly or annually increased to 47% in 2021, up from 28% in 2018.

A social donor is someone who gives to an organization by attending an event or supporting their friend, co-worker, or family member but doesn't have a direct or personal connection with the organization. They are often hard to retain and engage with since they typically don’t have a personal affinity on their own.  

What are common social donor types? 

To effectively engage with social donors, you need to have a good understanding of who they are and what they care about. Understanding your audience is the best way to create a genuine connection and turn them into long-term supporters. The most common types of social donors are: 

  • Peer-to-peer event donors: These are donors who contribute to a volunteer fundraiser. They might raise money through a walk, ride, or by putting up a personal fundraising page. They reach out to their network or community to raise money for a cause that’s important to them.
  • Special events participants: These are the donors that pay a registration fee to attend a gala, golf tournament, or similar event but have no previous time with the organization. Sometimes their registration fee could be paid for by a company or by an individual sponsor.
  • Tribute donors: These are donors that make a contribution in memory of someone. Maybe your hospital was important to the person being honored or memorialized. They can also be known as occasional donors.

Why are they so hard to retain? 

Donor retention is typically driven by allegiance and affinity to an organization. Part of the challenge with social donors is oftentimes they are thanked by the social relationship that initially engaged them instead of the organization itself. This makes social donors quick to lapse because there is little to no stewardship. 25% of social donors report never hearing a follow-up after making a donation, so any outreach can go a long way. 

The reason many people continue to make donations is because they see the impact their gifts have on the organization. If social donors are missing that connection and follow-up from you, then they aren’t likely to think of your organization when they are considering making another donation. 

Remember, this audience is a little different than a first-time donor. The key difference being you know what or who brought them to your organization. By understanding their motivation, you can think through communication strategies specific to the audience and thoughtfully engage with them. As you prepare your outreach strategy, keep these things in mind: 

Tips to engage with social donors

1. Don’t forget active stewardship  

As I mentioned before, most of the time active stewardship isn't taking place. Don't forget to thank them for their gift or their participation in your event. And to the greatest extent you can, make it personal to them. This will reinforce they are important to you even if they can to your organization indirectly. Just like with all other donor relationships, they want to hear about the impact of their gift. 

2. Keep their original motivation in mind 

You have some unique data points available for this audience that you might not for others. If you have a way to involve the person who originally connected the social donor to your organization, it can make all the difference. Leveraging who brought them in the door or what event got them involved is really powerful. It shows that you are spending the time to understand them as a donor and what motivated them to give in the first place.

3. Consider the timing 

Timing can be particularly important when reaching out to tribute donors in particular. Maybe they made a donation to your organization to honor an occasion or to memorialize a loved one. Keep those occasions or anniversaries in mind. The social donor might be interested in re-honoring or re-memorializing them like they did the first time.

4. Remember the initial engagement approach 

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. According to Cathexis Partners, 54% of social donors would be open to donating again in the same way and 89% of first time social donors say they would be open to additional donation requests that came through their already involved friend, family member, or colleague. By keeping the original engagement approach in mind, you’re more likely to retain these donors. 

To learn more on this topic, including motivations to help social donors stay loyal, watch this free webinar

NEWS  /04/12/21
How donor personas can help you find and connect with your audience.
NEWS  /06/21/21
Learn how to engage and grow your mid-level donors for a lasting impact.
NEWS  /07/09/19
When considering a long-term goal for your fundraising achievements, there is nowhere to go but up — but what if your data isn’t up to the task?

Meet The Author

Sam Hunter headshot
Samantha Hunter
Association for Healthcare Philanthropy

Share This

facebook-icon twitter-icon linkedin-icon