By Katherine Redington, Vice President of Social Impact Journeys and Business Development
Considering over 70% of all charitable contributions are made by individuals, non-profit organizations need to have an effective way to connect with donors. Let’s face it, fundraising is all about relationships, and forging strong bonds requires more than digital interactions.
Donor trips are second-to-none when it comes to engaging with your supporters on a deeper level and have many benefits that extend far beyond the trip’s conclusion. Here are 10 benefits of a well-executed donor trip:
- Immediate engagement – Travelers return home full of new knowledge, photos, excitement, and ideas. They are primed for deeper engagement with your organization and are often willing to provide their time, talent, and connections to promote your cause. This could take the form of blogging, hosting an event, making introductions to their network, or increasing their giving. Make sure you’re ready upon your return to capture and manage their enthusiasm.
- Donor retention – There is no substitute for getting out into the field and seeing one’s giving in action. A well-planned field visit will move your donors and help them stay connected to your work over time like no PowerPoint presentation ever could.
- Increased giving – With the right people on the trip, transformational gifts can and do happen. Experiencing your work first hand, understanding the complexity, seeing the results, and connecting emotionally is a powerful combination. Donors will see the link between their giving ability and a potential solution, and they will understand how their gifts can change lives.
- Stewarding and cultivation – Traveling is one of the best ways to truly get to know someone. Building memories and sharing experiences break down barriers. Donor trips further establish relationships on a genuine level as they often take place in the developing world, where lack of WiFi and other commodities help everyone truly connect to what is around them.
- New ambassadors – Donors that really understand your work take on a new significance. They become educators and advocates for your cause, able to field questions, host events with confidence and passion, and open doors to their own network. This is most apparent right after a trip as they come back invigorated and educated. Provide support for hosting an after-trip event, and connect your organization with a broader network of potential new donors.
- Bond with beneficiaries – Profound connections with beneficiaries are often forged between people from very different places. These connections lay the foundation for more open conversations with donors and a sincere solidarity with beneficiaries’ struggles, even from across the globe.
- Trust – When you see your money at work it dispels myths, dissipate concerns, and highlights the complexity of the problems people are facing. By showing donors how their funds are contributing, you help build that most important trust between donors and your organization.
- Increased social media visibility – A strategic plan for your donors’ use of social media can dramatically increase your visibility on multiple channels before, during, and after the trip. Nowhere else can a photo or a live testimonial from the field spread like wildfire as it does on Facebook or Twitter, reaching friends, colleagues, and families unaware of your work. This increased presence can have very positive trickle-down effects, such as finding new donors and collecting new marketing assets in the form of great photos of your work and testimonials.
- Improved messaging – A successful donor trip requires your organization to distill a lot of information into the most important takeaways for your donors and the most thoughtful way to convey them. These trips will push your non-profit to do a deep dive into your own narrative and storytelling and to come up with an improved messaging strategy, which provides long-term benefits.
- Invigorated staff – Fundraising is hard work. When staff from headquarters get the opportunity to connect their efforts at home to the work in the field, it energizes them and their own commitment to your mission.
What benefits have you seen from a well-executed donor trip? We’d love to hear your story! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katherine Redington is Vice President of Social Impact Journeys and Business Development at Elevate Destinations. Visit www.elevatedestinations.com/donor-travel to learn more about our Social Impact Journeys.