I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard much lately from the nonprofits I support. There’s been a scattering of updates, e-newsletters, action alerts, and appeals. But mostly – silence.
I know it’s quieter time, but that doesn’t mean you need to go AWOL. You should be communicating with your donors at least once a month. In fact, the period between campaigns is an excellent time to reach out. You don’t want to be a stranger. And, since many nonprofits seem to have decided to take a break from donor communication (not a wise decision), your message will be one of the few they’ll receive.
Here are some ways to show your donors that you’re not a stranger.
Share an update
Let your donors know how they’re helping you make a difference. Send something by mail if you can. Maybe a two-page update or infographic postcard. Here’s one of my favorites. Knock it Out of the Park If it’s impossible to send something by mail right now, you can use email.
Say thank you
Thank your donors just because. Send them a nice thank you card or you can combine a thank you and an update. Have some fun and get creative here. 15 Creative Ways to Thank Donors
Create a better newsletter
You may already keep in touch with your newsletter. Newsletters can be a great way to engage, but before you get too complacent, I have to ask you, Is Your Newsletter Boring? Many of them are, but yours doesn’t have to be.
A good summer project for you is to create a better newsletter. Find some engaging stories to share. Think about what your donors want – Hint – It’s not a lot of bragging. 3 Ways Your Nonprofit Newsletter is Killing You
The general rule for newsletters is a monthly e-newsletter and four quarterly print newsletters. I like to recommend a short (maybe two articles) e-newsletter every two weeks. Our inboxes are overflowing right now. This way you can stay in touch regularly and not bombard people with too much information at once.
Tie in current events
There’s a lot going in the world right now. Will your organization be affected by any of the Trump administration’s policies or proposed budget cuts? Share ways your donors can help – perhaps by contacting their legislators, volunteering, or making a donation.
Focus on relationship building in your appeal
If you’re doing a fundraising appeal this spring, make the main focus relationship building. Thank donors for their past support, share some updates, and show them how their gift will help you make a difference.
Invite long-term donors to join your family of monthly donors. Send a special letter to your lapsed donors letting them know you miss them and want them back.
If you also did a year-end appeal, some of your donors may be reluctant to give again so soon. You certainly can ask for more than one gift a year, but why now? Don’t just ask for a donation. Make a compelling case and stay focused on relationship building.
Don’t lose momentum
After I made a bunch of monthly gifts last year, several organizations sent me monthly thank you letters either by mail or email. This went on for a couple of months and then it pretty much stopped. Last month I only received two thank you letters. What happened here?
It’s easy to ride on all that year-end energy, but you have to keep it up. Whether it’s thank you letters to monthly donors or e-newsletters, once you start, you can’t stop. What kind of message does that send? Use a communications calendar to help you communicate regularly.
Your donors want to hear from you throughout the year. Don’t be a stranger.