Donor participation is 1 part skill and 1 part persistence. At the core of all of this is communication. Staying in touch with your donors will build trust and loyalty, just like any business. Here are 7 ways to stay in touch with your donor base or potential donor base.
One of the biggest challenges facing Nonprofits today is not how to make a difference or initiate change for their cause, it is how to support their cause by obtaining donations or volunteer help. Donations, big and small, monetary or man power or other, don’t just “happen.” Even the best cause in the world will only attract a select few who share the passion behind the cause. More often than not, donations are the result of an ongoing relationship between nonprofit leadership and their supporters, whether that be from private donations, volunteers, business supporters or even unique programs like Payline Giving. So here is a list of seven great ideas for your nonprofit organization to utilize to help improve your donor relationships by opening the lines of communication.
- Old School Snail Mail Distribution – This is a great way to help make the cause seem more real, especially if you are using newsletters that include stories and pictures from the results of your efforts. However, these are more expensive than e-mail newsletters, and require you to have mailing addresses which is always much hard to obtain and verify than emails. In today’s world of “junk” mail, it runs the risk of getting lost in the shuffle, so remember to keep branding prominent and try to set yourself apart from the “typical” white letter envelopes that people get every day. Start with flyers once or twice a year and as you grow you can increase the occurrence and the amount of content. Some may even find it useful to go as far as a magazine format rather than a newsletter or flyer format.
- Modern Newsletters – E-mail newsletters are cost-effective (sometimes free), easy to create and make a great way to open the lines of communication. It is hard to believe you could have a consistent donor base without issuing an E-Newsletter at least 4 times a year. It is probably the best way to touch your donor base and prospect pool. Be careful of spam regulations and we always recommend a useful tool such as MailChimp or other service that can start free and has great tools to make building templates to help establish your brand easy to do. Also, don’t bombard your donors and try to segment them by interest if you are going to send more than one e-newsletter a month. Targeting the right donors with the right topics will have a profound improvement on your conversion to donations.
- Ultra Modern – Social Media – If you have a nonprofit and you aren’t using Twitter and Facebook to communicate with your donors, you are missing out on a huge potential. However, it can also become another waste of time if you are not careful to do this right. We have a previous blog on using Twitter for your nonprofits to share photos and videos as well. A Facebook page is a great way to share updates, photos, videos and open a two-way dialogue with your supporters.
- Organizational Website – A website is basically a constant broadcast to your supporters and a constant recruiting tool that can help you engage potential supporters. It also is the most proven and successful means to prove to them that you are putting their gifts to good use.
- Cultivation Events / – Everyone loves a party, but the best way to Non-ask events (where you don’t ask for money directly) can be a great way to build your reputation and get new people involved in your efforts. Put together a great host committee and task them with getting “new blood” through the door to hear about your efforts. You can also use these events to keep your current donors engaged and connected with your organization.
- One on One Contact – Who doesn’t like to feel special? The simplest way to do this is a quick phone call just to say “Thank You.” This is always great to do after your major events to keep in touch with your donor base and make them feel special. However, the most intimate way is to schedule face-to-face meetings with your major and mid-level donors. It pays to have a well train staff member or preferably an executive or board member make these meetings a priority at least once a year.
- Media Releases (PR) – I saved this one for last as it may seem a surprise that you can greatly increase your communication with supporters without even speaking with them. Imagine how your donors will feel when they see a news clip or read an article in the paper about all of the great things your organization has been able to accomplish from their gifts. Validation is a key component to building loyalty and gaining new supporters.
Are you employing some or all of these techniques? Which ones are working for you and which are not? Did I miss a method that you find useful? Let me and our other readers know about it.