Donor communications matter – a lot. Are you thinking about your next appeal yet?
If you’re planning already – congratulations! If not, you’re probably not alone. Isn’t it still summer?
And if putting together that big year-end campaign makes you feel a little panicky, you might want to consider preparation. Did you know there are things you can be doing all year round that will make creating effective fundraising communications much easier?
Here are a few things you can think about:
1. Create a story bank
Gathering stories should be an ongoing process. And it will be much more effective if your whole organization is charged with making deposits – especially program staff.
What’s in it?
Stories that show your mission at work.
Calm your colleague’s fears, though – they don’t need to worry about their writing abilities. Just capture the action as they saw it. Even short anecdotes can help.
If everyone is filling this bank throughout the year, each time you need to create an email or an appeal or a newsletter you’ll have something to draw from.
Pictures and video can make donor communications shine
Images are more powerful than words. Images of your mission at work can communicate the “why” of your organization powerfully! And sure, having some well-done photos is amazing. But even decent ones can be helpful. And they can communicate an “in the field” immediacy.
Think about a video conversation with a client. You can do this with a cell phone – and it can help take donors and prospective donors right to the heart of your mission.
These aren’t photos or video showing how hard you and your colleagues work, though. Stay focused on the beneficiaries of your work.
2. Keep your data shiny clean
You know how important it is to keep your donor management system information up to date and correct. You may also know how hard it is to correct months – or even years – of badly recorded information.
To prevent that situation, you need to make hygiene a daily habit. Get a new donor address? Don’t wait. Correct it now.
Once a year at least, do an NCOA (National Change of Address) on your lists. Mailing to the wrong place is costly.
You can also ask for information throughout the year to be sure you’re up to date. If you recognize donors in an annual report or a performance program, you can include your current listing in a thank you letter and ask them to update it if it’s not correct. That may also mean a chance to talk to a few donors – always a good thing!
3. Segment your donor lists
This could live under data, of course. But it requires some creativity, too.
To reach donors in a way that feels personal, segments are important. But they can also help you calibrate your language and ask amounts more finely.
4. Collect a swipe file of donor communications
If you are not already collecting good examples of mail and email donor communications, start now. Like your story bank, this will be more effective if you do it all year. And you should invite colleagues to add to it, as well. (Ask them why they found something effective – it’s good to get different viewpoints.)
Long ago, a colleague told me he thought there were few really new ideas… just cleverly reused ones. I’m not suggesting you copy someone else’s appeal word for word! That would be a big fail for YOUR donors. And dishonest. But use the pieces you collect to study.
How did they do it? What was the purpose of that paragraph? How did that image, in that place, really move you?
Sometimes a great idea can inspire your own great idea. And yours may be nothing like the inspiration. We often need a little creative kick!
5. Build a donor experience map
Every person who is asked to give, or who gives, is part of a journey with your organization. It might be short-lived (those who are asked to be involved and opt not to). Or if you succeed, it could be a long and happy relationship.
But you will create a much better experience if you do it thoughtfully. Don’t tell yourself that if it develops organically it will be better! You know that’s not so.
- What are the first impressions you want people to have?
- How will you ask for that first gift?
- How will you thank donors for their first gift?
- How about their tenth? How will you show them their impact?
- And how will you ask for feedback throughout the year and throughout their involvement with your organization?
This map or plan will not only help you know where you’re going throughout the year. It will also help your donors. Because when you think through their relationship with you, you can find all kinds of ways to improve it.
Your goal is a great experience. One that makes donors feel useful and needed and important to your cause.
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
[…] to waste with lack of care. It’s always a good idea to keep in mind engagement best practices and improve communications, especially when engaging with major donors and other high impact […]
[…] There are so many contributors to your next mailing’s success. (Like your list, for instance.)But good communication does matter. How you attract attention. Inspire action. Present the “why” of your request. So ask about […]
[…] are tons of potential applications to your communication and fundraising. But for me, the more interesting part is how our memories are formed and how these […]
[…] Communication is critical to raising more money. Jargon hurts. A lack of mission clarity hurts. And if you’re completely absorbed in your organization’s work, you might have to consciously step outside that view. Because your inside eyes aren’t seeing things as someone outside the organization would. […]
[…] those that would support fundraising activities – is money lost. The money you could bring in by communicating with your donors and asking for their help is money – and if you work at it – donors – in the […]