Donor Communication Guide: Creating the Ideal Communications Cadence

Fundraising and building lasting donor relationships are all about cultivating connections. When you have a strong connection with a donor, they feel personally tied to your mission and understand the impact of their gift. Knowing this, how do nonprofits go about building these connections?

Donor communication!

Strong communication is the backbone of any lasting donor relationship. It’s a great way to express:

  • Gratitude for a donor’s support
  • Future goals for your organization
  • Impact of donations
  • And much more

Creating a steady, annual communication cadence – and sticking to it – alleviates stress when executing campaigns and builds a more connected community around your cause.

Join us as we dive into best practices for maintaining strong donor communication and how your nonprofit can stand out in the crowded fundraising space. We’ll cover how to:

  1. Leverage Donor Data
  2. Personalize Your Messaging
  3. Build a Steady Communication Cadence

Leverage Donor Data

Before you can start drafting communications, you must first know your audience. Take the time to look through your donor data to get a more wholistic view of your donors. Keeping track of your donor data within a database will ensure that you don’t let any potential donor relationships fall through the cracks.

With this data, your organization can see:

  • Giving history
  • Program or campaign interests
  • Previous communications
  • Frequency of donation

From there, your nonprofit can group your donors based on similarities to personalize your messaging while keeping it scalable. Tailoring your communication will not only lead to more genuine donor connection but, in turn, influence a higher likelihood of response.

Here are a few ways to consider grouping your donors to help with communication:

  • Age range
  • Marital status
  • Donation frequency or size
  • Engagement with your organization

Equipped with this knowledge, your nonprofit is ready to make the right ask to meet your donor’s needs and motivations.

Personalize Your Messaging

Donors are looking to build relationships with nonprofits that genuinely value their contributions. To show your gratitude, your organization needs to personalize communication in a way that feels genuine and relevant.

Though it can be hard to know every donor on a personal level, here are a few steps to help make the connection feel authentic:

  • Know your donors’ preferences: When communicating with each donor, make sure you are using their preferred communication channels. Whether it’s direct mail or email, tailoring your communication to each of your donors will show that you value their needs and actively work to meet them.
  • Keep your communication relevant: No one likes to be bombarded with messages. As a nonprofit you have a lot of information to share, but not all of it is relevant to every donor. Tap into your donor data to what’s most important to your donor and then tailor the communication you send. This will help increase engagement and not overwhelm your donors.
  • Connect with values and experiences: Donating to a nonprofit is a very personal experience, and people tend to donate to a cause that is close to their heart. Once you identify the part of the mission that drew your donor to your cause, you can tailor your communications to their passions and interests.

If you do not know what drove someone to your nonprofit or their preferences, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask! Being intentional with your donor communication shows donors that you care about their contributions and are actively seeking genuine connections with your donors.

Build a Steady Communication Cadence

Your communication strategy shouldn’t be limited to just solicitations and thank-you letters! Most donors want to be seen as a valued a part of your organization. Be intentional about connecting with donors outside just asking for donations by building a year-round communication cadence.

This cadence should be built to meet your donors’ needs. Not sure what each communication should say? Consider informing donors on:

  • Upcoming events or fundraisers
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Organization updates and impact

Keeping donors informed allows them to engage with your nonprofit outside of just donating! When planning out your ongoing donor outreach strategy, consider the following types of communication:

#1 Cultivation: Relationship-building With Your Donors.

Cultivation communications should be a steady drumbeat. They can be quarterly, monthly, or weekly, depending on your capacity. You may use channels like:

These mediums can all be used to tell stories, share photos and videos, and express gratitude. It is the equivalent of asking your neighbor about their weekend or sharing recent returns with an investor – you are showing that you care about your donors even in the off-season of giving.

#2 Solicitation: Calls to Action.

Solicitation communications spike at key giving times, including:

  • Giving Tuesday
  • End-of-year
  • Internal milestone, like the launch of a program
  • Fundraising goal for an upcoming event

A piece of solicitation content will be simple and direct, with only one call to action: donate. A direct call to action feels more appropriate (and less awkward) when it is cushioned by ongoing, friendly cultivation.

It is important to remember your consistent communication is not a lecture, but a conversation! Be sure to factor in any suggestions your donors have to better adjust your communication strategy to their needs.

A Note on Stewardship

You have cultivated your donors through ongoing communication, you have solicited them with a call-to-action to donate, now what?

Here is the good news – your cultivation emails are a form of stewardship! You are already stewarding your donors IF you are sending out regular communications.

Now, that does not mean they don’t get a sincere response of gratitude. Showing gratitude is vitally important, whether that be a thank you note or gift, invitation to serve on an executive board, or a nice lunch with the Executive Director.

All this means is that you can take one thing off your list if you are communicating regularly.

Use a calendar to create a high-level overview of your cultivation and solicitation content through the year. This will help you proactively decide when and what to communicate. Without a calendar, it’s easy to lose track of deadlines and find yourself scrambling when it’s time to ask for gifts.

Plus, staying on schedule with your communications leads to higher engagement. But, allowing for flexibility in your calendar is valuable too! Sharing updates in real-time is an important part of your overall communications strategy, even if it is not always planned in advance.

Building out communication with donors might seem like a tough task, but with the right planning and data, your nonprofit can master it and create stronger, and lasting, donor relationships.

Track15 logo
Track15 envisions a world where nonprofit leaders can focus on their mission. As fundraising consultants, we offer a wide range of services that build trust and excitement, including: major donor cultivation, annual giving campaigns, database services, grant writing, and event planning.

Wrapping Up!

Check out these resources to dive even deeper into all things marketing & communications!