What makes the difference between donor communications that generate a response and action versus those that end up being forgotten? Effective donor communications share common characteristics based on best practices. Here’s how to create a communications plan that results in engaged donors.
1) Know Who You’re Contacting
First, decide who you want to send your message to. Do you want to contact a single group or different groups of donors? Be sure you understand the preferences and motivations of each group.
2) Segment Your Donors
Use the filters in your fundraising software to segment your donors by giving level, communication preferences, and programs/projects they’ve given to.
3) Tailor Your Communications
Fortunately, you don’t need to write an entirely original message for each donor to reap the benefits of customized communications. Simply change a few words to reflect the program or project given to or the level of gift. For example, major donors will receive a different type of communication than first-time donors.
4) Create and Follow a Communications Timeline
Organizations with the best intentions sometimes struggle because of a lack of process. You and your team members have a lot on your plates, and it’s difficult to remember when you intended to send a thank you or update. A pre-planned communications timeline will help ensure your intention becomes a reality. Your timeline should include an outline of what you plan to send, when, and to whom.
5) Use a Conversational Style
We all respond better to messages that sound personable and friendly. Donors are no different. Imagine that you’re speaking with your donors face-to-face and write your email or letter in the same voice and style.
6) Be Specific
Donors appreciate a thank you. But they have an even greater appreciation for a thank you that updates them on how the projects, programs, and campaigns they’ve given to are progressing. Since you’ve segmented your contacts, it will be easy to share specific updates with the right people. Specificity will keep donors more engaged since the communications will be more relevant.
7) Encourage Feedback
Input from your donors is valuable and asking for feedback will help grow the relationship between your organization and your donors. Ask donors for their opinion on your donor stewardship program, giving societies, and fundraisers.
8) Include a Call-to-Action
Invite supporters to get more involved. Encourage them to spread the word to family and friends, post on social media, participate in a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, or volunteer. This will help them feel like an integral part of your team.
9) Be Donor-Centric
All your communications should be focused on the donor. Using “you” and “we” language that includes your supporters will make your donors feel like the valued partners they are.
Following these best practices will result in communications that resonate. Your donors will feel valued, will have confidence in your organization, and will be motivated to continue their partnership with you.
Learn more about how to create customized donor communications that increase engagement by downloading Donor Communication Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All.