I’ve written a lot about the importance of nonprofit organizations communicating with their donors, but that’s not enough. You have to do it well. You have to knock it out of the park. Sadly, many organizations fail at this. Their communication is okay at best and just dreadful at worst.
That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when I received an update in the mail from Heifer International, an organization that brings sustainable farming and commerce to poor areas around the world. It went beyond the usual generic, boring update.
Here’s what I liked about it.
It came in the mail
You may balk at communicating by mail because you think you can’t afford it, but honestly, you can’t afford not to use direct mail. Mail is more personal, and your donors will be more likely to see your message. Try to mail an update to your donors at least twice a year.
Heifer sent a simple 8½ by 11 two-sided self-mailer. Even if you’re a small organization, you can do something like that. You could also do a postcard.
Don’t cut back on mailing because it costs too much or takes too much time. Imagine how you would feel if you received something like this. INTERNAL EFFICIENCIES & TRAGIC FUNDRAISING COMMUNICATION.
Read on to learn How You Can Print and Mail Without Breaking Your Budget
“It started with your gift”
This update knocked it out of the park by opening with “It started with your gift.” It went on to say, “to show you how your support creates lasting change, here are a few of the most recent updates that we’ve received from our projects that you have helped Heifer support.” Talk about donor-centered!
It said Thank You
Never miss an opportunity to thank your donors. Besides thank you letters (of course), you can show gratitude in your newsletter, updates, and even fundraising appeals.
This update said “Thank you, Ann!” in big bold letters.
It told me how I was helping to make a difference
This update gave specific examples about how bringing beehives to Honduras, goats to women farmers in Nepal, and chickens to Cambodia is making a difference for the families and communities in those countries.
I heard from the recipients
Each of the examples included quotes from the recipients so we can hear first hand how these people are earning money and feeding their families.
It was visual
If I didn’t have time to read the whole update, I could get the gist of it by seeing pictures of beekeepers and farmers.
Give your donors something special
Don’t settle for mediocre communication. Knock it out of the park by giving your donors something special and letting them know how much you appreciate them.
Fundraising consultant Pamela Grow has some great (and a few not so great) examples of donor communication – both mail and email, including a different one from Heifer International.
Photo by Alan English