How You Can Do Better in 2016


Happy New Year! I hope you had a good holiday. I also hope 2015 was a good year for your organization.

The New Year is a good time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t last year.  Here are a few areas that I think need improvement.

Do a better job of thanking your donors

I know you spent a lot of time working on your year-end appeal, but many organizations fall short when it comes to thanking their donors.

Thank your donors right away, and not by sending a generic looking receipt.  Shower them with love whether it’s on your thank you landing page, an email, letter/note, or phone call.  BTW, I believe all donors, even those who give online, should get a thank you by mail or phone call.  It will make a better impression and that’s what you want.

Don’t Treat Thanking Your Donors as an Afterthought

And don’t just thank your donors after they make a donation. Keep thanking them throughout the year – at least once a month. A thank you plan will help you with that. Why You Need a Thank You Plan

Focus on your donors, not your organization

Okay, you’re planning to share accomplishments with your donors in an annual report, newsletters, and email and social media updates.  But that’s not enough.  Many annual reports and newsletters can be used as a cure for insomnia.

I just received a year-end update from an organization that opened with “X organization continues as a world leader in….,” and emphasized being number one and top ranked.  In the midst of this three-page organizational love fest, they only thanked their donors for their support a couple of times and included very few examples of how they’re helping the people they serve.

You need to reverse this.  Pour on the praise for your donors and go beyond just telling donors “your support of our mission has made it possible for us to reach these achievements…” Yawn.  Give specific examples of how you are helping people, and dial back on the bragging. How You Can Share Accomplishments Without Bragging

Use language your donors will understand

Your donors don’t use words like underserved or disenfranchised, and neither should you. Write as if you’re having a conversation with a friend.  Be clear and specific.  Something like – Thanks to you, the Connors family can move into a home of their own.  

Take this advice from the Center for Plain Language – Make it Clear

Let’s Start a Nonprofit Plain Writing Movement

You only have a few seconds to get your donors’ attention. Don’t blow it by using language they won’t understand.

Stay in touch throughout the year by using a communications calendar

I’ve emphasized the importance of staying in touch with your donors throughout the year.  I know it can be hard, but it will be a whole lot easier if you use a communications (aka editorial) calendar.  Make it Easy to Stay in Touch with Your Donors by Using a Communications Calendar

Your donors want to hear how they’re helping you make a difference. Don’t let them down.

I hope you’ll take the time to make improvements in these areas. Here’s wishing you a successful 2016.

2 thoughts on “How You Can Do Better in 2016

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