Creating Your Message

10 Tips for Communicating with Donors.

Excellent donor relations can be tricky. Being open, kind and grateful as you speak with your donors goes a long way in creating lasting relationships with donors. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you communicate with donors.

  • Talk to them like they're part of the team - Remember that your donors are a significant part of what you do. They aren't simply cheerleaders on the sidelines who cheer on your organization – instead, they are an integral part of the team. Talk to your donors knowing that's true!
  • Use second-person pronouns - Say "you" instead of "we" when you can. Don't be self-centered in your communication. Make sure your tone is more like a conversation than a monologue. Recognize who your donors are and talk directly to them (not only about yourself).
  • Use multiple communication channels - We talk a lot about email and social media, but don't forget about other communication channels as well: Send physical newsletters, make phone calls, and put posters up in your organization's space. Communicate with your donors in several different ways.
  • Don't clutter communication with too many calls to action - Don't overwhelm your donors with too many requests. Make sure you don't ask donors to donate gift cards, make a pledge for a capital campaign, and sponsor a table for your gala all at the same time. If you ask too many things at once, donors are less likely to follow through on any of them.
  • Be concise - Avoid the temptation to tell too many stories or to go into a long winded explanation of your most recent project. Aim to be concise when you're writing to donors – especially when you're writing emails. Many of your donors read email on their mobile devices, and they're more likely to stop reading if the content is too long.
  • Have a recognition program - Recognize your donors for their gifts. There are many different ways to approach this. Many large organizations publish the names of their largest donors as part of a special recognition circle in order to publicly thank them for their gifts. Small gifts (like branded coffee cups, refrigerator magnets, etc.) can also help your donors know they're appreciated. A handwritten, personalized card is a simple way to show sincere appreciation.
  • Seek to know and understand your donors - Meet as many donors as you can and ask them questions. Ask people why they give to your organization and how you can best communicate with them. Always seek to build genuine, dynamic relationships with donors.
  • Communication goes two ways - Take donor feedback to heart. When a donor is kind enough to share about his donor experience or to let you know what she thinks about your content, be thankful that someone reached out and listen closely. Consider feedback and be open to making changes.
  • Help them become advocates - Let your donors know how they can advocate for you. Ask them to bring friends to a fundraising event or to share your campaign with others. Peer-to-peer communication is important in fundraising, so empower and equip your donors to help you recruit others.
  • Say "Thank You!" - Every donation is a big deal. Your organization depends on simple generosity to continue doing your work. Always thank your donors for their investment.