You only communicate when you are asking for money.
Over the past decade+ we have had the pleasure to work with many non-profit organizations. There is one huge mistake that I’ve seen in charitable organizations of every size. You only communicate when you are raising funds. The push begins in November on #GivingThursday and the calls, emails, and social posts continue through December. Then . . . crickets. This is a terrible communication strategy for several reasons.
#1 Giving decisions are made early in the year
Thoughtful donors make their giving decisions deliberately as part of their budgeting process. If they don’t know you, you won’t receive their donation. The same is true for organizational donations. The fiscal year-end is either in December or, for many companies, in July. BUT, budgeting happens at the BEGINNING of the fiscal year.
Your end-of-year campaign is not aligned with the decision-making cycles of the most forward-thinking and generous donors – so you are missing out on donations.
#2 You are competing with every other organization and need
Giving Tuesday and the December holidays are a clamor of requests for dollars. There is a bell ringer at every store entrance, people’s budgets are dedicated to holiday gifting, and there are seasonal needs and calls for help. Your request is bound to be lost in the flow.
#3 You make people feel used
People work hard for their money. When they make the decision to share some of their hard won earnings, they want to know that it is going to an organization that is trustworthy and they want to know that their dollar will have a positive impact. A sporadic message or cold receipt doesn’t engage the giver in your mission.
A better way
Don’t ghost your donors! A meaningful communication strategy is an essential element of a healthy nonprofit. Engaged donors give more and give more frequently. Engaged supporters volunteer more and will introduce your nonprofit to friends and colleagues. Your communication strategy should tell the story of the impact you are having on the world – and how others can become involved.
Here’s how to craft a better communication strategy.
Deepen the relationship with your current supporters. Say ‘thank you’ genuinely and often. Donors have many choices of where to send their dollars. Let them know that you truly appreciate that they trusted your organization with their donation. Use email, letter campaigns, and social media to invite them into your organization and show how their dollar is used and, most importantly, the people that their donation has impacted.
Develop a relationship with future donors. Social media is a wonderful place to create new relationships. Use your social channels to introduce your organization to people and show them your mission and impact. Social marketing allows you to tell your story to new audiences and build the know, like, and trust factor. Invite followers into your inner circle via newsletter signup.
Make it easy for people to say ‘yes’ to your organization. Once you’ve created a relationship move the conversation to a space you own. Your website is the place to direct people who are ready to make giving decisions. Here is where you take your messaging deeper and outline how you achieve your goals, provide testimonials and credentials, and reinforce the credibility of your organization. This is the gateway for those who are ready to go from observer to supporter.
Look critically at your website. Does the site help people make the journey? Is there a method for people to sign up to receive more specific information? Is there a way for people to give and connect? Does your website make saying ‘yes’ easy?
Frequent and meaningful communication with your supporters creates stronger and long-lasting bonds. Start to outline your communication strategy today for year-long success.
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