5 Ways NOT to Communicate with Donors

marketing-man-person-communicationWe are humbled by the work that nonprofits are doing, and the time, money and heart they put into their missions to make their communities and the world a better place to live. The work being done is valuable, but the nonprofit sector continues to experience declines in giving, according to the FEP and Growth in Giving Database.

Here’s the tough news:

  • Giving declined in December 2018 – the time of the year when most charities rely on more donations.
  • Giving was down between four and six percent in December 2018 as compared to December 2017.
  • The number of donors is also down, according to FEP and the Growth in Giving Database, which found that the number of donors declined 4.5 percent during 2018.
  • Donors, according to FEP, are split into three categories: general (less than $250), mid-level (between $250 and $999), major (at least $1,000). Major gift donors are the only group to increase, while general donors are disappearing. In fact, the number of general donors is down 4.4 percent and mid-level donors are down four percent, according to FEP.
  • New donors are down 7.3 percent, new retained donors are down 14.9 percent, and the number of lapsed donors who were recaptured dropped 1.6 percent.

But, here’s the good news: You can make changes to the way you communicate with your donors, which can help you defy the current statistics and increase donor retention and donation amounts.

Here is our list of donor communication tactics that we DON’T recommend:

  1. Don’t only ask once and then never reach out again. Keep communicating with your donors, even when you’re not asking them for money. Keep them updated about the status of campaigns and projects, let them know when you have an event coming up, ask if they’ll volunteer their time, and thank them for past contributions.
  2. Don’t make it about you. Their donations are about them and their contribution to your mission, so it’s important to make your donor feel like part of your team and let them know how their donation helped and how it was used.
  3. Don’t generalize your communications. Not every donor should be communicated with in the same way, so it’s important to segment your donors and communicate with them accordingly. Major gift donors should receive a different message than new donors. Donors who always turn down your annual golf outing shouldn’t be invited to your, well, golf outing.
  4. Don’t only ask for money. Ask for volunteers, send out updates about fundraisers and projects your team is working on, let your constituents know when you’re planning an event, keep them apprised of changes and news within your nonprofit. Doing this will help your donors feel like team members rather than cash cows.
  5. Don’t only use one channel. Social media, email, texts, calls, direct mail – all of these channels are at your disposal, and you should be utilizing them all! Different donors will respond to different modes of communication, so it’s important to segment your donors and figure out which method will work best for your individual donor groups.

The numbers may look daunting, but how you communicate with your donors can greatly increase the success of your nonprofits fundraising efforts.