I hope everyone is doing okay and staying safe. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing.
Summer is often a quieter time for nonprofits, although I don’t need to tell you we’re not having a normal summer. You don’t want to be too quiet and ignore your donors. In fact, this is a good time to do some relationship building.
You may be holding back because of the pandemic and economic downturn, but you actually want to communicate more with your donors right now. First, we’re looking at a tough fundraising season, but better donor engagement could help. Also, while some people may be on vacation, many are staying home this year, so it’s a good time to reach them.
You should be communicating with your donors at least once a month, if not more. Don’t make the mistake of taking a vacation from your donor communication – never a smart decision.
Here are a few ways you can connect with your donors this summer, as well as throughout the year, and build those important relationships.
Check in and send an update
Check in with your donors and see how they’re doing. Wish them well. This is especially important if you haven’t communicated with them since the COVID-19 outbreak started earlier this year (I hope that’s not the case). Even if you have been in touch more recently, send a message of kindness. Many states are seeing a rising number of COVID cases and we’re all dealing with a lot.
Send an update to let your donors know how they’re helping you make a difference for your clients/community right now. Share what’s going on whether it’s success stories, challenges, or some of each. Be authentic and specific. Don’t get trapped in jargon land.
One of my favorite ways to connect is with a postcard. I know mail is expensive, but a postcard shouldn’t cost too much. It’s also a quick way to share an update with your donors.
If it’s impossible to send something by mail right now, you can use email.
Show some #donorlove
You don’t need a reason to thank your donors. Just do it and do it often. Most organizations don’t do a good job of thanking their donors, so you’ll stand out if you do. My last post was all about thanking your donors. Create a thank you plan to help you with this.
This is another situation where a postcard will work wonders. You can do a combo thank you and update. Go one step further and make your donor’s day with a handwritten thank you card. You could also create a thank you photo for a card or you can share your photo by email and social media. Another great way to connect is to make a thank you video.
There are so many ways to thank your donors. Spend a little time thinking of ways to show some #donorlove.
Create a better newsletter
You may already keep in touch with your newsletter, whether it’s electronic, print, or both. In theory, newsletters can be a great way to engage, but in reality, most of them are long, boring bragfests.
For the time being, I would suggest a shorter newsletter to capture your donors’ attention. You could also opt not to do an official newsletter and just stay in touch with short, engaging updates instead.
Focus more on relationship building in your fundraising appeals
A fundraising appeal can be a way to connect with your donors if you make relationship building the main focus. This rarely happens because most appeals are transactional and generic.
You shouldn’t stop fundraising. You won’t raise the money you need if you don’t ask. Plus, donors want to give if they can.
Remember to keep relationship building front and center at all times. Thank donors for their past support, share some updates, and show them how their gift will help you make a difference for your clients/community.
Keep it up
Your donors want to hear from you this summer and throughout the year. A communications calendar will be a huge help with this so your donors won’t wonder why you haven’t been in touch lately.