The Power of Donor Communication

Many things that are true in business are also true in the nonprofit world, and sometimes even more so. Once someone has donated to your cause it is actually easier (and more cost effective) to get a repeat donation from them than to cultivate a new donor. Cultivating repeat donors, however, requires careful donor management and that requires good communication. Here are three important tips on donor communication to help you cultivate a great relationship with your donors.

1. Do not treat your donors like cash cows

Most nonprofits meet a critical need, which often overwhelms them. It is very easy to focus on the needs of those the nonprofit serves and become blind to the equally real needs of donors. Most people give, donate or contribute to a cause because its something they believe in and it makes them feel good. That doesn’t mean, however, that donors don’t have just as many real problems and issues themselves. It is critically important to never seek to “milk” more money from your donors, no matter how urgent the need is.

2. Stay in touch

Most nonprofits get very “chatty” any time they undertake a big fundraiser or suddenly have a critical need. This is a mistake. It is important to give donors regular updates to let them know what kind of impact their dollars are having or how they are being spent. Annual reports are certainly important, but you also want to keep them updated on new strategies being implemented or even talk about things you hoped would work but did not work out. When you’ve had some big success, that’s also important to share with your donors.

3. Create connection

People don’t actually connect with causes, they connect with people. There is a good chance that your donors support your organization because it somehow has an impact on someone close to them. For instance, the parents of an autistic child will often be inclined to support organizations that serve autistic children in some way. Similarly, people may also support organizations that a close friend or family member is passionate about, even if they themselves have no ties to the cause. For this reason, you want to share your big-picture goals but also highlight one specific individual that your work is affecting in a deep and powerful way. In other words, you want to create connection between your donors and the very real people they are helping.

Cultivating donors is certainly important, but once a donor has contributed to your cause or organization it is important to keep right on cultivating your relationship with them. As everyone knows, relationships are hard and they take a great deal of work and effort. The same thing that is true in life is also true in the nonprofit world.

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