Stuck for Words? Your Donor Communications Plan for the Year…

planKeeping donors engaged is by far THE most effective way of ensuring your ongoing fundraising success.  I know I keep going on about it but that’s only because it’s true (and you can read my other posts about it here and here).

I also know that charities like yours are strapped for cash and stuck for resources so now is the time to get ahead of the game and plan your donor communications plan for 2014. 

It’s not enough to know that you need to be getting stuff out there, decide now WHAT that ‘stuff’ will be, get the systems in place to support your programme and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it becomes to actually engage with your donors on a regular basis.


Start off with the Golden Rules:

Keep it Simple – don’t try to be overly clever with your messages (although by all means be as creative as possible).  Keep your messages clear and straightforward and your methods of communication simple and cost effective.

Use what you already have – I know I go on about this but if you have a newsletter that you produce, decide whether it contains the sort of information donors will be interested in hearing about.  If you use a CRM system to email clients, partners, press – other audiences – use it to communicate with donors too.  If you run events, which are the ones that you could invite donors along to?

Mix the Media – you don’t always have to send a letter or an email, you could use video, post messages on your Facebook page or Twitter or even make a phone call.  Get in touch with your donors in different ways and find out which gets the best results.  If you don’t get in touch with your donors every month, as I’ve suggested below, that’s OK.  Perhaps you could use these themes on your social media messages too – and encourage your donors to follow you on social media if you don’t already do that.



What are your big plans for 2014 – and what were your successes in 2013?



Is the month of Love so why not show your donors you love them by inviting to an event or telling them the difference their support has made?



Spring has Sprung and it’s time for new beginnings.  What new ideas are coming to fruition – or do you have a new member of staff that you’d like to tell your donors about?  You can even ask them for their ideas about your charity and what it could be doing (donors love to be asked for advice rather than only for money)



Why not ask for a small donation for a particular project? Instead of buying Easter eggs, would they make a donation to xxx project?



Rather than the same person getting in touch all the time, why not ask one of your delivery team to give an update on a project they work on?  This can help to give donors a different perspective on your charity and help them to feel more involved.


We’re half way through the year, so maybe now is the time to update them on your appeals – how much you’ve raised, what you’ve achieved, the impact that they’ve made. 


Summer time and hopefully, the weather is good.  Perhaps now is the time to invite your donors along to an event (remembering of course, to get the invitations out nice and early)?  Do you have something coming up in September/October that would be a fabulous donor thank you or is a great awareness raising day for your charity? Let your donors know about it.


If they don’t usually write to donors, why not ask the Chair or CEO of your charity to send a message this month – why they got involved with your charity and how it inspires them, for example.



Do you have any great images or videos showing your charity’s work? Why not post them on social media or email a link out to your donors to show what you’ve been up to over the summer?



Hallowe’en/Autumn – as we get into the colder, darker months, how about a little story telling by the (imaginary) fireplace? Tell the story of a particular person if you can to demonstrate your work – or ask that person to tell the story themselves.  This can be written, audio or video – or a combination.



In the UK, we have Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night and the US has Thanksgiving – but either way, it’s about people coming together to share (turkey or marshmallows – take your pick).  Share some of your successes with your donors this month – and don’t forget to thank them for their part in them.



You might want to ask for a Christmas gift (and in the US and Canada of course you will be as it’s the end of the tax year!). Thank your donors for all of their support over the year – share the highlights and ask them to share in next year’s too by making another gift.


I have written lots about planning – you could say it’s my pet subject – so if you’re interested in getting ahead of the game and planning your fundraising, have a read:

Can looking backwards stop you from tripping up?

The Secret to making your fundraising more successful

The 5 Actions you need to take for successful fundraising


Gail Perry has also written a great post about fundraising planning with a different activity for each month.  Have a read and put her ideas into action!


[frame]Planning is the key to every successful enterprise – be it fundraising, marketing, setting up a charity or deciding on your social media messages. So get planning your donor communications and see the difference it makes to your year. Have a great 2014!![/frame]


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