Your donors are not ATM machines and people you only communicate with when you need money. They are your partners and you can’t do your work without them.
Seeing your donors as your partners will help you with your donor relations and donor communication. Always keep your donor in mind.
Show your donors how they’re helping you make a difference
I recently received a Donor Impact Report from Project Bread, an organization that’s working to end hunger. I thought this four-page report did a great job of showing donors how they’re the organization’s partners. The report was filled with donor-centered language such as:
For our generous supporters who make our work possible – a closer look at your dollars at work.
Thanks to you, children are receiving the nutrition they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond.
You help children rise and shine.
Your support puts Chefs in Schools and Chefs in Head Start on the map.
You help us nourish healthy bodies and healthy minds.
You help us foster healthy eating habits to last a lifetime.
This is so much better than a bunch of boring facts and statistics or the usual “look how great we are.”
You is glue
Fundraising expert Tom Ahern came up with the phrase – You is glue. Remember this every time you communicate with your donors. So many appeal letters, thank you letters, newsletter articles, etc. come across as distant and impersonal and don’t consider the donor at all.
Always write to the donor and before you send that message, give it the you test.
Be a good partner
A partnership is a two-way street. Your donors have demonstrated their commitment to you by supporting your organization. You can return the favor with thank you letters that pour on the gratitude. Stay in touch with newsletters and “impact reports” such as the one I highlighted above. I’m not crazy about the term Donor Impact Report because I think it sounds jargony. I do like the concept though, and you could call it something else such as a Gratitude Report or a Making a Difference Report.
Being a good partner means thinking of your donors first. Share information they’ll be interested in. Project Bread’s report included several success stories. Donors want to hear about the people they’re helping.
Your print newsletters and annual reports should be no more than four pages. Some of the examples I cited above are headlines, so busy donors can scan the report and quickly see the you-centered language even if they don’t have time to read the whole thing.
Being a good partner also means communicating via the same channels your donors use. Your donors will be more likely to see something that comes in the mail. If four-page mailers aren’t viable, you could send an oversized postcard. Of course, you can also use email and social media, but try to send updates by mail a few times a year.
A long-term partnership
You want your partnership with your donors to last a long time. This isn’t happening as retention rates continue to plummet. Seeing your donors as partners that you welcome when they first donate and then continue to show appreciation to and stay in touch with over time will help.