Top Insights: Our Donor Communications Panel with NXUnite

Everybody is familiar with the phrase, “Communication is key,” and this is especially true in the realm of fundraising. Without proper communication, nonprofits can’t share their missions with the world. Donor communications in particular are an integral part of nonprofit communication because donors provide the funds and resources through which nonprofits ultimately are able to make changes in their communities.

In September, Joe Duca, Vice President of Product Management at OneCause, was joined by Lynne Wester at Donor Relations Guru, Marc Pitman at Concord Leadership Group, and Charlotte Fedders at EverTrue for NXUnite’s “More Than a Call for Donations: Donor Communication Strategies and Why It’s Important.” The panelists highlighted the importance of relationship building through donor communications, the place of accessibility in these communications, and why you should thank your donors more frequently than asking them for money.

A Space to Create Relationships

When asked, “What would you tell someone just entering the world of donor communications?” Joe responded, “Fundraising is about building relationships and trust.” Donor communications should always be a space for relationship-building, and these relationship rely on the respect that you give your donors. That’s why it’s essential to ask your donors what matters to them and to continually thank them for their contributions to your organization.

Another best practice within this relationship that Joe highlighted is varying the channels in which you thank recurring donors. This is imperative if you want donors to feel appreciated within the relationship that you have with them— if a donor receives the same thank you note every month, they won’t feel special and will stop paying attention to your organization’s communication. 

Joe gave some tips for varying donor communications, providing examples such as texts, voicemails, postcards, handwritten letters, and emails. By varying donor communication channels, you make donors not only pay attention to what you have to say but also feel special and valued within your relationship.

Keeping Communications Accessible

According to Joe, accessibility is the future of nonprofit communications, and nonprofits should be prepared to consider accessibility within all their communications. Joe asked the audience, “Are you making images that work for people that have color blindness or poor visibility?” Accessibility is essential within all facets and channels of communication and can be as simple as paying attention to the font size on your organization’s website or including captions on the videos you post to social media.

Joe encouraged nonprofits to think of people who can engage at any level, ensuring that you include people with different capacities as potential supporters of your mission. Accessibility, Joe noted, can be easy to forget, but in reality, it’s beneficial for everyone involved— it grows your donor database and creates relationships with supporters who might not otherwise have the opportunity to be involved.

Thank Before Asking

Many nonprofits feel that donor communications have to revolve around asking for donations, but clearly they are much more than that; they are a space to create relationships and include new or differently-abled supporters. But donor communications sometimes can and should include financial appeals, so it’s important to think about how these appeals can be both tasteful and effective.

Lynne focused on the fact that donor appreciation is at the core of donor communications. The person you have to thank the most and treat the best is a first-time donor who is, in Lynne’s words, the single most important person to your organization. Your nonprofit’s goal should be to get them to give a second gift eventually. But how? The answer is to thank the donor and get to know them. Make sure not to make them feel unappreciated by immediately asking them for more money.

Lynne echoed Joe’s sentiment: “This is a real human relationship,” she said. Make sure that your donor communications are not only sent out to be an ask for money— donors want to hear more about your organization, learn how they can support in various ways, and feel that they’re making a difference through their contributions. Lynne emphasized, “They’re not your [nonprofit’s] donor; you’re their nonprofit.” So be their nonprofit, ask them how they want to be communicated with, keep the focus on your mission, and thank your donors!

Donor communications are a necessary and influential aspect of nonprofit fundraising. Panelists on NXUnite’s “More Than a Call for Donations: Donor Communication Strategies and Why It’s Important” focused on the fact that these communications are about creating and maintaining relationships. 

Donors are essential to your nonprofit and help your nonprofit take on and successfully complete new projects. Your donor communications should reflect how essential your donors are, making them feel important and special, and keeping them engaged in involved in the crucial work that you do.

Wrapping Up!

More fundraising resources are just a click away.