In my last post, I wrote about figuring out the best ways for you to reach out to your donors. I suggested sending out short surveys with questions such as do your donors prefer print or electronic communication and which types of communication are they most likely to read.
What happens if what your donors want is difficult for you to do because of limited resources? Let’s say a majority of your donors tell you they prefer print newsletters.
Many organizations send electronic newsletters because it’s easier and less expensive, but if your donors want print, you are doing a huge disservice to the people who support you.
Don’t panic. I have some suggestions on how you can produce a print newsletter with limited resources. If you run into other conflicts such as donors wanting more photos and stories, you can apply some of these as well.
If you have limited resources (budget, time, staff), you need to prioritize. Being donor-centered and keeping your donors happy is a priority.
Make an investment
Nonprofit organizations often skimp on their fundraising and marketing budgets, and want to pour all their resources into programming. There’s been a lot of buzz about overhead costs lately. The Overhead Myth
My take on this is your entire budget is program related. If your donors want a print newsletter, then this is a legitimate expense. You need to spend money to make money. It might sound simplistic, but if you keep your donors happy, they will continue to donate money to keep your programs running.
Can you allocate more of your budget towards printing, mailing, staff, equipment etc? If not, find additional funding sources that will cover general operating expenses.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a fancy newsletter, but it should look professional. You could print it yourself. Invest in a high-quality color printer and newsletter software. Also, look into bulk mailing options.
Don’t leave anyone out
Ideally a print newsletter should be no longer than four pages and go out at least once a quarter. If you are really strapped, you could send one twice a year. But if your donors want print or don’t use email or social media, they need to hear from you more often than that.
If they aren’t getting updates from you, and the only communication they receive are fundraising appeals, that’s not good. You need to reach out to these donors by mail.
You could figure out which donors want a print newsletter and which want an electronic one. Some organizations do this. This may also be hard to pull off if you have limited resources. Be careful not to short change one group. Give everyone equal quality.
You may decide you just can’t do a print newsletter. If that’s the case, consider sending out postcards or other short pieces updating your donors on your success.
Keep your donors happy
Again your priority should be to keep your donors happy. If you don’t reach out to these donors by mail, you are ignoring and alienating them.
On the other hand, if your donors say they want you to save trees and not communicate by mail, don’t spend the extra resources.
Do the best you can, but also do what’s best for your donors.