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Four Donor Communication Mistakes to Avoid in Year-End Giving Plans

There’s no question that this is a busy time of year in our field. But don’t let the hustle and bustle of year-end planning and #GivingTuesday campaigns distract you from the basics of good fundraising, especially strategic donor communications. Here are four of the most common mistakes nonprofits make in their donor communications and how you can avoid them:

Mistake #1: The One and Done

A new donor gives to your organization. They get a receipt for their gift and then…nothing. It’s a sad reality, but many organizations only send donors an automated donation receipt during this time of year.  They don’t get a heartfelt thank you letter or an email about the impact of their gift. Does this approach inspire a second gift? Not likely.

How can you avoid this fate? Communicate with donors on a regular basis. Send quarterly updates on special projects. Ask clients to write thank yous that share how your programs have benefited them. Encourage staff and Board members to call donors and discuss new programs. Whatever you do, showing donors the impact of their previous gift will compel them to give the next time you ask.

Network for Good’s donor management system is designed to keep your donor outreach on track. You can create mass emails and send them to a group of donors as soon as their gifts are made. And, for more personal communication, you can set up a reminder to make a donor thank you calls.

Mistake #2: The Me, Me, Me

Donors are the heroes of your nonprofit. These are the people who make your work happen. If you send an appeal or a thank you message that is all about how great your nonprofit is, you’re missing out on an opportunity to make donors feel good about supporting your cause.

Here’s an easy way to reverse this mistake. Before you hit send on your next donor email, scan for all instances of your nonprofit’s name and instances of “us” and “we.” Try rephrasing those sections and including the words “you” and “your” to emphasize the valuable role donors play in your organization’s work.

Mistake #3: The Broken Record

If you share the same success stories over and over again, your donors may wonder if their gifts are creating any NEW good in their community. Be sure to have a diverse set of stories to share in thank you letters, quarterly updates, newsletters, appeals and more.

To make sure you don’t send the same update to a donor, use Network for Good’s donor management system to evaluate their engagement. You can track open rates and clicks in your email campaigns to determine what inspires them to give.

Mistake #4: The Spray and Pray

Many nonprofits think that if they send one appeal to their entire database, they will inspire everyone to give. This doesn’t yield big results. Why? Because  donors are unique.  They have a unique interests, they have preferred giving habits, and they give at specific levels.

Instead of spray and pray, try segmenting your list. For donors who give big gifts, don’t start your gift string at $25. Start it $100, and vice versa. For those donors who are interested in particular program, send them information that demonstrates that program’s success.

In Network for Good’s donor management system, you can segment donors in groups based on giving history, program interest, giving levels, and more. This feature helps you easily send them the right message at the right time.


What other donor communication mistakes have you seen in your work? Let us know in the comments.

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