Your non-profit is successfully raising money and you’re looking for ways to take it to the next level. Should you a) make more asks or b) increase the number of non-solicitation communications?
b) is best answer.
Why focus on non-solicitation communications? This is where your non-profit can start to build more meaningful relationships with donors. This is where donor loyalty lives. Ultimately those two things will make you more successful in fundraising.
The Value of Great Communications
Asking is great. It makes the fundraising wheel go round. Without asking, a good portion of our donors might not give. But in tandem with asking, we must complement our fundraising program with communications that inspire and engage our donors.
Donor communications that use stories articulate the impact that donors are a part of. Donors want to know about the impact that they are a part of. The Cygnus Donor Surveys of the last few years have consistently shown us that.
Donor communications show donors that we – the nonprofits – care about them as much as they care about us.
Donor communications embody transformational philanthropy, not just the transactional relationship.
Your donors don’t want to be left out in the cold. Let them into your community – wholeheartedly – and welcome them with the same compassion that they show your cause.
So Why Are We Falling Short (still)?
On a pretty consistent basis the majority of our sector is failing our donors. We have the mentality that we don’t want to “bug them” or feel like we are becoming spammers, which naturally we do want to avoid. But here’s the thing: the donors who truly care about your organization, the ones who will make gifts year after year, don’t mind if you communicate with them. In fact, they want to hear for your organization. And those are the people that you really want to be a part of your community.
By being a donor or signing up for your mailing list they have given you permission to communicate with them more.
Instead we put up barriers, speak in jargon and make it nearly impossible for donors to get know our organizations intimately.
I think that part of this is due to tradition. We do what we’ve always done. Old habits die hard.
No doubt that donor communications can be a big beast to tackle. But with a solid plan and small steps, we can start to build better relationships that will have fundraising results.
Ways to Improve Your Communications
#1 – Create a plan. Every sustainable change we want to implement at our organizations begins with a plan. Outline your end goal for communications, what objectives you want to achieve and what tactics you’ll use to get there. Then, most importantly, make a calendar that shows your plan in action.
#2 – Focus on one channel at a time. If you are implementing a donor communications plan for the first time or have made some updates to your existing plan, don’t get overwhelmed in the implementation process. Start with one channel or one objective. Break it down into action steps and go one by one until it’s completed and you are satisfied. Then move on to the next one.
#3 – Start telling more stories. The cornerstone of a successful donor communications plan is communicating impact and showing gratitude. There’s no better way to accomplish this than by telling a story.
Do you want to raise more money? If you want to build strong, lifelong relationships with your donors, you need to focus on communicating with them.
Join our newest online class – Epic Donor Communications: How to Engage and Inspire Your Donors!
This is a 6 week online course that I am co-teaching with Joe Garecht of The Fundraising Authority. Register today to join us for this practical, hands on course.