30 Ways To Not Leave Your Donor

Fundraisers and marketers already know that an ask is often how fundraising relationships begin and a flow of communication is how they are sustained. How to navigate those communications streams is less clear.

Kathy Swayze, president and creative director of Impact Communications, and Vila-Sheree Watson, director of marketing at The Arc, presented “Fundraising Communications Cornucopia” during the 2016 Direct Marketing Association New York City Conference. During the session, the duo presented 30 tips to optimizing organizational communications:

  • Give your donors what they need. Look to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which prioritizes self-actualization followed by esteem, love and belonging, safety and physiology;
  • Understand influence. Six weapons for influence are reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof and testimonials, authority, liking and scarcity;
  • Go beyond elevator speeches. Develop an institutional case for support, four to six pages detailing organizational vision, track record and why others should get involved;
  • To earn attention, there must be tension. Show possibility, what is and what might be;
  • Engage in research and evaluation;
  • Point marketing and fundraising in the same direction. One could enhance or kill the other, so tie them together;
  • Move away from your desk. Stories will not find you. Get to know people. If your organization cannot afford to send you to other offices or in the field, take advantage of events that bring staff together;
  • Use personalized stories to highlight and spark success but do not exploit;
  • Ask questions. Staffers can be asked for memorable moments or what inspires them. Ask clients how their lives would be without the organization;
  • Get emotional, there is crying in fundraising. If somebody cries when telling a story, don’t be afraid to use that emotion to move people to action with your copy;
  • Identify your organization’s superheroes. Tell their stories and write in their perspectives;
  • Find new ways to stay “thank you.” Think about what you are doing to delight and surprise donors;
  • Don’t be afraid to market for planned giving. The same marketing you already use works for legacy donors;
  • Make stewardship dynamic. Build donor personas and think about each of them when writing for stewardship;
  • Be deliberate with stewardship. Create a matrix that shows organizational actions at different donor thresholds, $1 to $99, $100 to $499, etc.;
  • Know what content to use in which channel;
  • Understand that Millennials matter. While not moving the current bottom line much, creating commitment among Millennials now can become lucrative in the future;
  • Track the “Pottery Barn Effect,” direct mail can drive online traffic.
  • Understand that it’s everybody’s job to fundraise. It’s important for employees across the organization to collect names and promote the organization at conferences and other events;
  • Boost direct mail and email campaigns with coordinated social media content. Consistency in story across platforms bring more eyeballs to your key campaigns;
  • Don’t be afraid to repeat or reengineer a past success. Your best appeal last year might be key to acquisition this year;
  • Get creative when mailing major donors. Have major gifts officers add personal touches;
  • Change your mindset to integrate communications. Build relationships with other teams and get buy-in from management to conjoin meetings;
  • Send companion emails during campaigns, allowing donors to choose how to respond;
  • Develop a YouTube strategy to offer another touch-point with donors. Be strategic, users tend to like reality-like content and vlogs;
  • Rethink website content to be open and engaging to donors.
  • Use stories to help build Facebook audiences. The Arc, for instance, was able to up engagement and donations after it began telling stories with Facebook;
  • Take advantage of fads. Virtual reality and Pokemon Go are two examples;
  • Create a master calendar for communications. All communications through all channels should be planned out and known; and,
  • Be consistent. Trust is built through consistent messaging. Donors don’t care what department information is coming from, so make sure that content is consistent across the organization.