Donor Communications (Part 2): How to use your assets

In Part 1, I talked about the basics that you need to include in a donor communications plan because I know how small non-profits can often struggle for time, money and staff to manage all of the different aspects of a fundraising campaign.

Now that you have the basic structure in place, I’m going to deal with a few different ways that you can enhance it…


1. What do you already do? What existing communications do you already send out? These don’t necessarily have to be donor communications.  You may have a newsletter – printed or emailed – that you send out to clients.  Can it be adapted or go out in its current form to donors?  Does it include relevant information that they’ll be interested in?  If yes, consider sending it out to donors too.  But don’t send it out if it’s very internally focused, doesn’t contain interesting stories or is very audience specific.  Try to be objective when you’re considering whether it can be adapted or not.


2. Social Media – do you already use social media to communicate with your audiences? Encourage your donors to engage with you on social media too so they can keep track of your Twitter updates or your Facebook page.


3. Keep it Simple – as I said in my last post about creating a donor communications plan structure, you don’t have to do anything fancy, expensive or complicated to communicate with donors.  Send a Christmas card signed by your CEO (or a contact of your donor, if appropriate).  Send them an update about a project written by one of your project staff or a client.


4. Have a system in place – send a thank you letter within 48 hours (have a standard one on file that can be adapted as necessary); send a thank you letter signed by the CEO or Chair for gifts over a certain level (the level depends on your charity); have ‘rules’ for each donor – where you have an email address make sure they’re marked to receive email communications/offline communications for those that you don’t; send quarterly updates and write an annual plan for who is responsible for each and when it is going out and in what format – so you might send a spring update from the CEO, summer from a project manager; autumn from a client/user (or featuring a story about them); and a Christmas card.  Don’t forget your annual anniversary ask!; think about running an annual survey to ask your donors what they think of your charity and its future plans – and in this ask for their phone, email and postal address and how they want to be communicated with.


5. Record all your donor communications on your database – whether it’s their mailing preference, a query or something else make sure that every mailing you send and every contact you receive is recorded and acted upon.


[frame]Now is the perfect time to plan the structure and substance of your donor communications plan so get planning and be amazed at how easy it is to make your donors feel engaged and looked after by your charity.[/frame]

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