You know you should thank your donors right away. With sincerity.
But unless you don’t care about keeping your donors, you also need to confirm their decision to give was a wise one.
You share with them what their giving has done. With stories, not statistics.
This could be a donor newsletter. It could be what Simone Joyaux calls a “newsy letter”.
But do you know what it can’t be? All about you.
You’ve heard that before, I’m sure. If you want to raise money from donors, you cannot make it all about you. You won’t dazzle donors into giving – or into feeling their gift was a good choice.
I received a great example of the wrong way to do this the other day. It was a simple letter. (So far, we’re doing fine.) But the letter included a bulleted list of what this organization had done in the past year.
Sure they added the occasional “thanks to you” throughout. But the letter’s purpose seemed to be back-patting.
Small changes would have made a big difference.
The biggest change, though is one of mind-set. It’s the difference between “our accomplishments that you helped us achieve” and “you did so much”.
Now, you may argue that the actual work was done by your staffers. You may think you need to highlight your organization’s work in order to seem worthy of notice and support.
But if you want to raise more money, you want to be generous with the credit.
Put your donors first. Give your donors the credit. You don’t need kudos; you need support. Make your donors feel critical to your work by making them feel responsible for your achievements.
Think about it on a personal level. When you’ve worked (or played) as part of a team, do you feel more connected and more eager to shine when your leaders take all the credit or when they share it?
Donors are generous with you. And it makes them feel good to be generous. But if you want the relationship to continue, it makes sense to be generous in return.
So… first step: hand over the credit. Donors will understand they weren’t there in person, doing the work. But when you thank them, you make it clear that they are needed and appreciated.
Think of credit as donor love. As love, period. If you spread more of it around, you don’t run out.
More love equals more love for everyone.
More credit to your donors mean they get to feel really involved in your work. And really involved people give.
How can you report back
I love donor newsletters. And they don’t have to be fancy.
However, it usually pays to invest in donor newsletters. When I introduced them at one organization, they immediately raised more than our appeals. It definitely wasn’t fancy. (You can see that at the link!) But it spoke to our donors.
On the other hand, Nashville Rescue Mission’s is more like a magazine. They don’t skimp. But it’s worth every penny. It brings in millions each year from the newsletters alone.
Remember the key parts. Per Tom Ahern, people will look at your headlines, your images and your captions. They might not read the articles. So it makes sense to give great care to the highly visible parts. (Though that doesn’t mean you should throw anything into the articles. The people who will read them are very important people!)
Keep it easy to read. That means type bigger than you might like.
And keep the donor in your spotlight. Remember you are writing to them, individually and directly. Be generous with the work “you”. We all love to read about ourselves.
If you can’t quite put together a newsletter, try what Simone’s “newsy letter”. It’s a letter. A letter! You can do that! Make it easy to read and directed at the reader. Chatty. Conversational.
You can also use email to keep donors in the loop. But resist the urge to do that with messy e-newsletters, full of everything and nothing. Keep it simple. Keep it focused. A few “here’s what’s happened because of you” items will do.
In fact, you will probably do better with fewer items and more focus. Because then you can feed your donors a steady drip of feel-good reporting. What if you sent one email a week? What if it was simple and personal and “Oh my goodness, you won’t believe what happened today, BECAUSE OF YOU!”?
All that joy and satisfaction, coming your donors’ way regularly? What a win!
Of course, don’t forget the phone or a personal note. For your most generous donors, this can be a wonderful way to build relationships.
Use any or all of these ideas, depending on your ability and list. But use them.
Because donors deserve to know they matter.