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How do nonprofits and charities engage constituents today?

Your constituents, whether they be major donors, staff, volunteers, board members or collaborators, make up the essence of your nonprofit’s financial and human resource sustainability. Since 2000, nonprofits have relied heavily on email to connect and communicate with constituents. Newer digital communication methods have since been added, including social media and electronic surveys. Nonprofits use these different avenues to send out information such as newsletters, impact reports, success stories, annual reports, event notices, and even meeting minutes and budgetary information. The problem remains: constituents are not getting the information they need to stay interested the nonprofit.

8 reasons your current engagement strategies are risky

  1. Nonprofits are dependent upon email to notify constituents about activities, fundraising events and more. Yet average open rates for nonprofit-generated messages hover around 34 percent, with click through and attachment open rates at a dismal 4.99 percent. Despite the best efforts of nonprofits to reach people through email, only a very small percentage of supporters will ever see your messaging, newsletters, minutes or other attachments.
  2. Social media channels are another common way to reach and engage constituents, but social media presents its own unique challenge: degrading trust. According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, people’s confidence in social media has steeply declined. Serious concerns that these platforms are insufficiently regulated have grown. For example, just under one-quarter of the British population do not trust social media to stop illegal or unethical behaviors from taking place on their platforms, including so-called secure sites such as Facebook Workgroups, private LinkedIn Groups, and Twitter private discussions.
  3. Recent email-related restrictions adopted by Google and other email providers could mean that most of your emailed communications end up categorized as spam, never to be seen by your intended audience. New requirements for recipients to opt-in, rather than opt-out, on email lists will create additional inbox barriers for your nonprofit’s email messages. Google's email service is also adding the option to allow messages to become inaccessible after a set “time-out” period in response to tougher data privacy laws.
  4. Both GDPR and voluntary email restrictions reflect the trend toward protecting email recipients and their privacy.
  5. Email fatigue is fast becoming a common experience. According to a new survey, nearly three-quarters of us admit to feeling overwhelmed by the number and frequency of messages in our inbox.
  6. Your charity’s emails are competing for open rates with highly sophisticated (and resource-rich) companies for inbox attention. Plus, recognized “friend and family” emails and work-related communications take precedence over “nice to know” inbox messages, including charity-related emails, which rank third in open preference, just above “junk” mail.
  7. Nonprofits hold trainings, events or tours at times when volunteers or donors are working or dedicated to family, leading to less-than-expected participation (25 to 40 percent attendance rates), which means that stories, impact reports, training sessions or other important communications are not reaching most constituents. And consider that virtual, streaming training events and other “live” reporting options are more important than ever before.
  8. An average 10 to 15 percent response rate for external surveys is considered normal. This means if you are asking for input and opinions to engage constituents via siloed tools, you are losing 85 to 90 percent of potential responders.

What is the latest and best way to keep your constituent groups engaged?

Constituents, as groups or individuals, deserve a private place to which they can go for all “need to know” communications — available when they have the time or the desire to know more, say more, join more and give more.

MissionBox powered Engagement Communities™ provides one secure, branded online center for all your constituents to access:

  • Information
  • Education
  • Memos/budgets
  • Reports
  • Inspirational stories
  • Invites
  • Timesheets
  • Suggestion boxes
  • Policies and procedures
  • Simple surveys
  • Impact reports
  • Shared documents/discussions
  • Internal news reeds
  • Videos
  • Performance reviews
  • Trainings and more …

Plus, MissionBox Engagement Communities provide easy document archival and retrieval, along with project organizational tools to promote true collaboration among staff and stakeholders.

Best of all, all tools are accessed via a unique username and password in a guaranteed private, managed environment, available through any device, both desktop and mobile.

With free user seats and cloud storage, you can invite a limitless number of constituents to engage in your mission.

MissionBox Engagement Communities. Your one-stop, secure, online center for all nonprofit constituent communications and collaboration. For a free demonstration, contact



MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.




Co-founder and CEO of MissionBox, founder and president of MissionBox Philanthropic Fund, founder and past CEO of Community TechKnowledge