Successful fundraising requires you to inspire and engage donors
Without an effective message, even the best-laid fundraising plans can fail. Consider these seven tips for effective fundraising communication.
1. Tell your nonprofit story
If you want current donors to keep supporting your work and new donors to join your cause, you must continue to describe who you are, what you do and where your organization is headed. As you tell your story, be sure to appeal to your audience's emotions.
For example, are you bringing fresh food into a neighborhood that's otherwise served only by convenience stores or fast food outlets? Then tell the story of the community you're serving. What was it like before, and how has it changed since you began the initiative?
2. Craft key nonprofit fundraising messages
When you're preparing fundraising messages, remember who you're writing to. Use text that's dynamic, clear and interesting, but not overly complex. Then, make the messages available throughout your organization. That way, staff members won't have to reinvent your organization each time they communicate with potential donors. They can draw on the good work that's already been done, tailoring it to the specific moment as needed.
3. Focus on performance measurement and social impact
Show the impact of your work by highlighting a participant's experience. For example, has your reading initiative encouraged elementary students to up their reading game? With permission, post a photo of one of your students on social media — including a quote about how life is different now that he or she is inspired to read.
As another option, you might encourage new donors by profiling an existing supporter. Personal connections can inspire action.
4. Regularly share good news about your nonprofit mission success
Don't sit on success. Have the students you serve improved their grades? Have families been given steady access to wholesome fresh foods? Has your work been recognized by a community leader? Have you received a grant to expand services? Get the news out. Seeing the impact of your work, or a recognition of its value, may inspire potential supporters.
5. Keep nonprofit donors up-to-date with regular communication
Share the ways in which donors are collaborators in your mission. You can certainly talk about your organization, but be sure to also talk about "we" and "us" — making donors participants in the mission and a critical part of your impact and outcome. Similarly, make sure your fundraising efforts encourage responses or suggestions from donors. Social media channels can be a great way to do this. You might even use print or digital surveys to solicit feedback about specific fundraising initiatives or campaigns.
6. Create your nonprofit communication strategy
Communication includes an email here, a newsletter there, a Facebook post and so on, but it's more than a collection of random individual messages. Your fundraising communication efforts work together to support your brand strategy and help you build relationships with donors. Make sure your fundraising communication strategy includes as many specific channels as you plan to use, plus key strategies for each channel.
7. Coordinate your nonprofit fundraising efforts
Whether it's staff members in development or marketing or members of the board, everyone should be on the same page with your fundraising communication plans. Agree on the priorities, such as clarity, focus and a memorable fundraising message. Remember that your audience receives competing appeals all the time. A coordinated effort can help your message stand out from the crowd and inspire your audience to take action.
Nonprofit Answer Guide: Marketing and communications
The Fundraising Authority: The 7 fundamental rules of amazing donor communications by Joe Garecht