Seven communication pieces every nonprofit needs

July 24, 2019

You’re busy!

At any time of the day, you’re

working on developing moves management processes,
entering data into Quickbooks,
launching an endowment campaign,
scheduling “friendraiser” events,
putting the final touch on next week’s gala,
getting a “massive number of grants” submitted,
starting your monthly giving program,
building the infrastructure of your development office,
working on your first capital campaign…
or even “coordinating a transport of cats from a high-kill animal shelter.”

I’ve been there. There are never enough hours in the day.

But chances are good (I’d bet money), that you’re missing out on more than a few opportunities to grow your individual giving program. Even better? These opportunities won’t cost you a dime. And when you get them right, you’ll avoid “fits and starts” fundraising and begin implementing the systems that lead to lifetime donors.

Ready to get started?

Here are the seven communication pieces every nonprofit needs:

1. The Welcome Email

Facebook “likes” are great, but how are they translating into donations? And don’t even get me started on the complete and utter lack of ethics of Facebook. Suffice to say that I wouldn’t treat my donors the way FB treats their customers. Focus on what you can control. Growing your nonprofit’s email list should be a top priority.

What happens when a prospective donor discovers your organization and decides that they want to learn more by signing up for your email newsletter or opting in for a free download. Is this the message they receive?

Welcome to XYZ org. We are happy to have you as a member of our community. Your email address and interest preferences have been recorded in our database. In the future, you will receive periodic emails specific to your interests.

Privacy is important to us; therefore, we will not sell, rent, or give your name or address to anyone. At any point, you can select the link at the bottom of every email to unsubscribe.

Your Welcome message is one o the most important emails. In fact, according to The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing:

“The welcome email tends to have a much higher open rate compared to other emails in a campaign. In fact, according to some analysis done by the Experian CheetahMail Strategic Services Group, “Welcome emails generate four times the total open rates and five times the click rates compared to other bulk promotions.”

If you consider that the overall email industry average open rate is somewhere around 20 percent, this figure is quite impressive. What does your Welcome email look like?

Check out three great nonprofit welcome emails here.
See how easy it can be to rewrite your Welcome email with this example.
Take it a step further and consider a nurturing email welcome series (ideal for new names acquired via Facebook).
Remember to never add names to your email list without having explicit permission to email them.

2. Thank You Email

It’s true. It’s impossible to thank your donors too much. Is your donor acknowledgment a receipt? Consider how you’re making your donors feel in those crucial moments after they’ve made their donation.

Even an already good thank you can be made better. See this “before” and “after.
This might be the best thank you email I’ve ever received.
Consider John Haydon’s brilliant donor retention strategy of an email welcome series following a donor’s first gift.
Where do your donors land after they’ve made a gift? Don’t forget your thank you redirect page.

3. Thank You Letter

Ah, the lowly and now often-neglected thank you letter. Please don’t let your personal opinions on the merits of thank you letters (“I can’t stand receiving thank you letters! I’d rather the charity saved the money.”) overrule the research behind what actually works. In research conducted by Dr. Adrian Sargeant, it was found that those who received the thank-you gave on average $45.32 more than those who did not receive the thank you. Why miss out on the opportunity sending a beautifully written thank you letter provides?

Even the best thank you letter has room for improvement (“before” and “after” example).
Grab this free thank you letter template.

4. Welcome Kit

How are you welcoming new donors to your organization? One way is by creating what’s known as a Welcome Kit, a direct mail pack created for the sole purpose of stewarding new donors and acquiring the second gift.

What goes inside? 

5. Your Ask

Once you master the basics of a multichannel fundraising campaign, you’ll have your organization’s own rinse-and-repeat system for raising money throughout the year. But what does that look like? Take a look at examples from these Basics & More alum.

“That’s why your donation is so important.”

A 68% increase in funding with this “before” and “after” fundraising appeal.

6. Your Donor Newsletter

Leading international copywriter Lisa Sargent calls print donor newsletters your retention engines. And she should know. Her clients can boast of donor retention rates unheard of in our sector.

Include at least one donor-centered print newsletter a year (we recommend a minimum of four) and check out these examples for inspiration.

Do you think your donor newsletter can’t raise money? Think again! 

7. Donor Feedback

The more you understand your donor’s big why (their reason for giving), the easier your overall marketing and fundraising becomes.

Consider incorporating a one-question survey into your welcome email.

SolarAid’s e-newsletter welcomes donors into their mission with a short survey.

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