Happy New Year! I hope you had a good holiday. I just returned from my family’s annual trip to Florida. It’s quite a contrast from dreary Boston, but at least there’s no snow (yet).
I also hope 2016 was a good year for your organization, and 2017 will be successful, too. You can help ensure that by starting the New Year on the right track. Here’s how.
Evaluate and plan
Take a look back at 2016 to see what worked and what didn’t in your fundraising and communications. Incorporate what you’ve learned into your 2017 plans.
If you haven’t made fundraising and communications plans yet, do that now! Don’t go too far into the New Year without plans in place. Also, make sure you evaluate your progress at least once a quarter.
Figure out your retention rate
As you’re doing your year-end evaluation, figure out your donor retention rate. A Guide to Donor Retention
If it’s low, it’s something you can fix, usually with better communication. Most of the reasons your donors leave are your own fault
Get in touch with your lapsed donors
Get in touch with donors who have given in the last two years, but not this year. Call them or send a personalized note. Let them know you miss them and want them back.
They may not have given to your year-end campaign for a variety of reasons including being too busy or not wanting to spend too much in December. The New Year could be a perfect time to reach out.
Thank your donors
I hope you thanked your donors after your year-end appeal and I hope you didn’t send one of those lame, generic letters. If you never sent a thank you, do that now!
Either way, the New Year is a great time to thank your donors. You want to show gratitude at least once a month. Wish your donors a Happy New Year, thank them again, and share a success story. You can do this by email or social media.
And, make a resolution to do a better job of thanking your donors this year. Say Thank You Like You Mean It
Don’t brag so much
Your donors wouldn’t have given to your organization if they didn’t think highly of you. You may be planning to create an annual report and continue to share accomplishments in your newsletter and other updates. When you do this, remember to focus on how your donors are helping you make a difference for the people/community you serve.
I just received a year-end update from an organization that included some extreme bragging. Only at the very end did they thank their donors. They should have done that in the first sentence.
Give specific examples of how you are helping people, and dial back on the bragging. Are You Bragging Too Much?
More stories – less jargon
On the other hand, I received a short report from a different organization which opened with a compelling story about a man named Michael who is worried about where he and his young son, Eli, will find their next meal.
Okay, they did throw in the dreaded words food insecurity, but that jargon is countered with real stories about real people.
Spend time this year collecting stories and use language your donors will understand. Write as if you’re having a conversation with a friend. Don’t get bogged down with a lot of explanation.
Be sure to tell visual stories, too. You can capture your donors’ attention in an instant with an engaging photo or short video.
Stay in touch throughout the year
Your donors want to hear how they’re helping you make a difference. Don’t let them down.
It will be a whole lot easier to stay in touch with your donors if you use a communications (aka editorial) calendar. Why You Need a Communications Calendar
Here’s wishing you a successful 2017!