First impressions matter, but so do good, lasting ones. This applies to everything you do – fundraising, marketing, volunteer recruitment – and all types of communication channels. Many nonprofit organizations will spend a lot of time creating fundraising and promotional pieces to draw people to their organization to donate or volunteer, but don’t do enough to keep them there.
Here are some tips to help you make a lasting impression.
Fundraising – Donor Relations
You have worked hard to produce a donor-centered appeal letter and the money is coming in. Do you wait two weeks and mail out a generic thank you letter that looks like you are sending it out because you have to and not because you want to? Or within 48 hours do you do something memorable like sending out a handwritten card or calling your donors to thank them? According to this piece by John Lepp, that phone call can leave your donors Speechless
Look to see how many of your donors are repeat contributors and how many of them have increased their donations over the years. If neither is the case, work on impressing them more.
Newsletter – Email updates
Don’t just thank your donors and then not communicate with them again until you ask for another donation. They need to hear from you on a regular basis in ways in which you are not asking for money. Aim for at least every two weeks. Your donors need to know how you are making difference. Share success stories and keep thanking them for their support.
I still believe newsletters have a place in nonprofit communications. If you do send out a newsletter, it needs to be donor-focused, short, and sent out on a regular basis. If you choose not to send out a newsletter, then send out email updates.
Some organizations intend to send out a monthly newsletter, but then do it sporadically. That doesn’t make a good impression. With a little planning that includes creating an annual editorial calendar, you should be able to keep your supporters updated on a regular basis.
Social media is another way to share your success with your supporters. You can post to social media more often (a couple of times a day is acceptable), but make it consistent. Don’t start posting every day, and then not at all. Also, make sure you are sharing something your donors will be interested in.
One of the great things about social media is you can start a conversation. Ask questions and encourage feedback on your Facebook page or blog. Share links from other organizations on Twitter. Engage and make an impression.
Your website will not only be seen by your supporters, but by people who don’t know you. Good, lasting impressions are crucial. You may have spent a lot of time creating a snazzy new website, but then don’t keep it updated or don’t realize that the donation form is really cumbersome. Is this the impression you want to leave?
Remember to make a good impression, but make sure it’s a lasting one.
Photo by Chocolate Geek via Flickr