Once a donor gives to your organization, your interactions with them are far from over. Your goal should always be to maintain a connection with your donors and to build a relationship with them over time. Like any good relationship, the first step to building this connection is communication.
When you keep up a conversation with donors, they are more likely to engage in support for your organization through networking and future donations. Keeping in touch with your donors is therefore an integral step for your organization.
If you’re creating a new donor communication strategy, or maybe rethinking your old donor approach, be sure to keep the following effective tips in mind:
Ready to learn more about connecting and building strong relationships with donors? Let’s dive into the first strategy!
1. Store Information From Your Donation Page
The first step to effective communication with your donors is ensuring you have the information necessary to keep in touch with them.
When your donors give to your organization through your online donation page, they probably fill out some key information that will help you keep in touch with them. Collecting this information to build out accurate donor profiles in your CRM is the best way to make sure all this information is organized and ready to use.
Make sure your online donation platform offers customized donation pages so that you can can collect the necessary contact information that you wish to use to contact your donors. Be sure to ask for information such as the donor’s:
While it is important to omit any unnecessary information from your donation page so that your donors don’t get bogged down in the process, contact information is absolutely worth retaining on your customized page.
To read more about information that what information to include in donor profiles and how to make the best use of your CRM, check out Double the Donation’s guide for nonprofit CRM software.
2. Send Effective Emails to Donors
Email is one of the most popular methods of contact for nonprofit organizations to keep in touch with donors. This is due to the fact that you can send messages directly to your donors’ inboxes through your email capabilities.
Some of the best practices for your email strategy include:
Segmenting your email list. Don’t send the same mass email to all of the donors in your CRM. Split your donor list up into segments depending on age, location, gender, and other demographics. Then, you can make appeals specifically for that demographic for the best response rate.
Sending regular emails. Regular emails don’t mean that you should spam your donors’ inboxes. However, sending a monthly nonprofit email newsletter does a good job keeping your donors up-to-date with your organization’s activities. Even if they don’t open the email, just the subject line will keep your organization in the forefront of their minds.
Choosing the best subject line. Your subject line is the opener that is used to convince your reader that your email is worth opening, reading, and acting upon. Keep the subject line short and sweet so it doesn’t get cut off and make sure you tell them exactly what the donor will find in the email content.
Many CRMs enable your organization to send emails directly from the software. Take full advantage of this and the built-in communication tools. For example, you may have the ability to automatically populate the donor’s name to an email template that you wrote ahead of time.
3. Write Letters to Donors
Handwriting letters is a great way to show your donor you care! While it may be time consuming and difficult to write these letters for every conversation you have with donors, they’re a handy resource for special occasions.
One perfect example of when to use a handwritten letter to a donor is when you receive a major gift.
Major gifts are not an everyday occurrence, and definitely not something to be taken lightly. Any way that you can show your donor that you care and appreciate their gift will help encourage future gifts.
When you write these letters, don’t forget about your thank-you letter best practices. For example make sure to include:
The date on which you received the gift.
The amount of the gift.
The tax exemption status of your organization.
A personal signature.
While handwritten letters are a good call for special occasions, you can always turn to typed letters for more general thank-yous or fundraising efforts.
4. Design An Effective Website
Your website is the top resource that your donors turn to in order to find more information about your organization, updates about your ongoing projects, and other relevant material. Make sure your website is well-designed and up-to-date to ease the process of researching your organization for supporters.
You don’t have to be a developer to create an attractive website. Believe it or not, there are software providers out there who are cheering you on in this effort! CMS software designed specifically for nonprofits, like Morweb, make it easy to integrate the tools you need like donation pages and social media integrations.
Start your research by looking up the website designs of other nonprofits. Look to see what types of website builders are used, the layouts they emulated, and other similarities between sites. Do they have online merchandise stores? Active blogrolls? Try to find fundamental similarities between the sites that you can emulate on your own.
Check out examples of the top nonprofit website templates to launch your website research and see what ideas are already out there.
5. Maximize Your Use of Social Media
You probably already have social media accounts set up. But how active are you on them? Do you have accounts, but only post every few months or so? Or maybe you’re an organization who has never even posted at all! Just setting up the account isn't enough. In fact, having social media accounts, but not using them properly could actually hurt your organization.
Consider this: A donor wants to see what their donation has contributed to, so they look your organization up online. When they follow your website to your Facebook page and see that you haven’t posted in over a year, they click that dreaded X in the corner of their screen. It’s likely this person won’t donate to your organization again.
To prevent this scenario, keep your donors actively engaged on your social media accounts. Some of the most effective ways to keep your donors actively engaged with your social media in addition to your regular posts include:
Emphasizing giving times. Giving Tuesday and end-of-the-year appeals are popular times for donors to give to your organization. Boost your social media accounts while promoting donation opportunities by posting about these opportunities online.
Setting up peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. These handy fundraisers empower your supporters to create their own fundraising pages to collect donations on your organization’s behalf. Supporters often post these pages to their own social media networks. Encourage them to tag your organization when they do!
Adding a social media button to donation pages. Adding a social media button to these pages enables your donors to share their gift online with their supporters. Write out a post template for supporters who choose to share their gift. Include a mention of your organization or your set hashtag in this template.
These are by no means the only times when you should be active on social media. Be sure to keep up regular updates on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other platforms you have pages on. Remember that it’s better to be fully committed and active on one or two platforms, than to have too many social media accounts to keep up with.
6. Follow Up With Donors
After your donor gives to your organization, that should never be the end of the conversation. Continuing this communication will help your organization engage the donor further and encourage recurring donations in the future.
Stay on top of your donor data in your CRM so that you can be sure to contact donors on special dates and occasions, like the anniversary of their first gift or on their birthday. This personal attention makes donors feel more appreciated by your organization.
Other follow-up communications to keep on top of include:
Membership alerts. When you see that members are coming up on their membership expiration date, you can send them a message reminding them to renew.
Thank-you notes. Send a message to your donors immediately after they give a gift or attend an event. This update shows that you appreciate them.
Surveys. Get feedback on your different events and projects by sending out surveys to your donors. Then you can apply this feedback for more effective fundraising efforts.
Pledge collection. Pledge campaigns can be a great way to secure donations from people who can’t give right away. Check out Snowball’s guide on collecting pledges to see best practices for collecting these promised gifts.
Your conversations with donors are an ongoing phenomenon. When it comes to your donors, don’t slack just because you’ve already secured a gift. Show your appreciation and keep pushing for recurring gifts through your follow-up messages with donors.
Donors are your most active supporters! Show them you care with some personalized attention and ongoing communication.
Securing gifts is never the end of the conversation you have with donors. Keep up these conversations to actively build relationships, maintain engagement, and secure future and recurring donations from them.
John Killoran is CEO of Snowball, an exciting new fundraising technology that makes it easy for people to donate in two clicks from text, email, web and social media sites. John pioneered SMTP payments and has been a major innovator in the mobile payments space for the past 5 years. When he is not running a company, he is cooking food for his family and telling his dogs to stop barking.