Donor Newsletters

How often are you communicating with your donors no, asking for money isn’t part of the communications I mean. How often do you update your donors about the work you are doing, and how are you doing this?

Some organisations are only communicating with donors when they want something, but donors want, deserve to know what you have been doing and how they (the donor) has helped you achive what you have done.

When it comes to communicating with donors it seems organisations are moving away from posted (mailed) updates to e-letters.

No matter what method you are communicating with donors, it’s important that the message you are sharing isn’t all about you, it shouldn’t be a ra ra about the CEO, it should be about the work you are doing and how without the support of donors you wouldn’t have got to where you are.

If it wasn’t for the support of donors you likely wouldn’t be where you are, you likely wouldn’t haven’t achieved much. So, the righly deserve to be seen as the ”heroes” of your organisation.

I’ve often thought that sharing donor stories is important, and have seen only a few organisations do this; and the response they get, from what I’m also hearing is brilliant.

When talking with donors about your work, it’s not a time to brag. It’s a time to give thanks, to share the ups and yes, the downs.

Recently I saw a newsletter from one organisation that shared several donor stories, it was a great read and made me want to support the organisation.

I asked the organisation what sort of feedback they get when they do their newsletters, and they said that generally they get good feedback and requests for information on ways people can do more to support them. This to me is a win.

Something I’m noticing too, is that organisations are moving away from posted updates to e-letters, but forgetting that not all supporters use email. So, some are missing out, this needs to be sorted.

Using the argument that mail is too expensive doesn’t cut it with me, donors whether they have email or not deserve to know what you are doing. Why is it ok to post out an appeal for money but not something about your work successes?

Sure, with an e-letter you can have a link to ask for support, but don’t make it the main purpose of the communication, same with a posted newsletter, include a portion for people to return a donation.

Also, think about the frequency of your communications, I’ve seen some organisations send an e-letter monthly, to me that’s a turn off and could soon be seen as simply spam, and result in donors switching off.

What are you finding with your donor communications, less is more? Are donor stories working for you?

FINAL DAY

Did that get your attention?

Emailing marketing can be an effective tool in your fundraising arsenal, but unless you do it well it can leave a sour taste, or be completely ignored by your supporters.

Doing  it right is the key.

How do you do it right, well, the simplest way to say this is as Nike does “Just do it” – but, measure, measure and measure some more.

If you’re not prepared to measure from the outset, if you think this is a hard task; don’t even think about doing a campaign. You’d measure a postal campaign, so why not an email one?

From my experience you need to have a few examples of contents, subject line etc and test these on different segments of your supporter database; what works for some may not work for others, remember one style does not fit all when it comes to any marketing to your supporters.

Being personal, personable and letting supporters know how important they have been to your organisation is important, but don’t be overly gushy with this; you want recipients to keep reading, not dive for the vomit bag.

If you find that the content is more receptive, that you get higher click throughs to your website, your donate now page, than other samples; use this … but don’t be afraid to keep testing what works.

Often, the subject line is all that needs a tweak, if you find one segment of your audience is more receptive to something that really pulls on their heart strings, use this on another segment and look at what results  you’re getting.

As Kerri Karvetski says on the Nonprofit Marketing Guide – Want to squeeze more mileage from a great fundraising or advocacy email? Send it again.

Kerri also says “Sending a fundraising or advocacy email again to non-responders — subscribers who did not open, click, donate or take action the first time — can sometimes raise as much, or produce as many actions, as the original send.” Something I agree with, and something you should take heed of.

In the article Kerri also says “When it comes to resends, which is what Kerri’s article is about, think about the plan behind the resend; “Sending a fundraising or advocacy email again to non-responders — subscribers who did not open, click, donate or take action the first time — can sometimes raise as much, or produce as many actions, as the original send. “

The next time you sit down and plan your next email marketing campaign, don’t just think about the “core” message, think about how you will monitor the campaign, what you will do to grab the attention of those you’ve identified you haven’t “reached” … don’t just write one piece and send it to everyone and end it there, have a plan for what you will do next.

It’s only a short article, full of tips – so head to Nonprofit Marketing Guide and read the full article

Are you monitoring and changing your email marketing, subject, content and more, if not why not?

Are you ready to change?

To see organisations doing the same thing day in day out to gain funding can be frustrating. Especially when you know they could do better and more if they adapted their fundraising methods.

If you keep doing the same thing and getting the same results, why bother repeating the action, it’s pointless, a waste of time and resources.

Organisations need to adapt.

If your direct mail campaign isn’t working as well as expected, adapt it, hopefully you have done a “market test” before launching the campaign and have allowed for tweaks.

If your telephone campaign isn’t working, why? The people making the calls will have market intelligence that they should be encouraged to share. Is it that they’re calling the wrong area, has something happened that’s drawing donors away (a disaster, humanitarian crisis).

Has you email campaign not gained the hits you would have expected? Again, did you test the campaign with a sample of your database before hitting send to your entire database?

It’s important that all campaigns are tested, not just internally, but more so externally. It’s your market that matters, not only what you and your team think.

How much time and effort are you putting into campaigns that could go belly up if you’ve got it wrong?
Be ready to adapt, have something up your sleeve “just in case”.

Be ready to change the subject line of your email campaign if you’re not getting the hits you would expect.

Likewise, be prepared to send the email at different times/days. And, yes, keep records of what does and doesn’t work.

If your phone campaign isn’t hitting the mark, is it the time you’re calling, change your calling times. And, as much as people hate it, don’t forget Saturdays can be a great calling day.

Before you hit go on any campaign, have an alternative plan, be ready, be adaptable and monitor, monitor, monitor.

Be ready to change, to adapt to any situation, perhaps even end your campaign early if need be.

When someone supports give a quick call and ask them why they have supported – yes thank them too.

Perhaps you have a supporter who has donated previously, but not on this occasion; give them a call and ask why.

This type of intelligence gathering is important, and should be done every campaign, no matter what.

So, in the planning sessions you have for your next campaign, allow for people to call delinquent donors and ask why, and call new donors too (you should be doing this anyway), and thank them, but find out why they are supporting.

Good luck out there, remember there’s lots of competition for the charity dollar.

Stop the Emails

I’ve said before that an email doesn’t always cut it, and I stand by this, what some don’t understand is that an email at the wrong time, with the wrong message can have a truly negative response.

Not only could the acceptance, click through rate be low, but it could also result in lower giving by those who take “action”.

It is important to truly understand how your donors want to be communicated with.

For some, a personal phone call may be what works, for others an email may suffice, however, it’s important that you understand what works for who.

If you communicate with the one group in the wrong manner you could do more harm than good, you could alienate donors.

Ask donors how they like to be communicated with, acknowledge and respect; it could mean a make or break with a campaign.

See also

Email v Direct Mail

An email Doesn’t Always Cut It

Email, Direct or Social Media

Communication – Email Management