Most definitely, yes! One of the most important elements in a strong fundraising program is ongoing communication with your donors. But, other than asking for donations, some people are not sure what other things would be meaningful to their members and supporters. No one wants to see an email and know before they open it that it will be a request for money. Donors can feel as if they were nothing more than an ATM to the organization; limiting emails to donation requests can pretty much assure a drop in your open rate.
Respect and engage those that are interested in what you do by sharing many parts of the work with them.
By keeping your points clear and succinct, adding some variety with images and subjects, keep the relationship vital and dynamic.
5 Suggestions that give you a reason to be in touch without directly asking for funds.*
1. Thank yous- file this under ‘duh’.
This is the easiest and most obvious ( but you’d be amazed by how many orgs don’t bother). Make sure your donors are thanked genuinely for their contribution.
Relying on an automatic payment acknowledgement is legal, but lazy. Taking the time to send a short, personal email or handwritten note on the standard formal letter makes a huge difference to the recipient. Think about how you could thank a donor when they don’t expect it or have a board member or senior volunteer make that call.
2. Welcome to Us
Immediately upon receipt of a donation from a new person, send out a dedicated welcome email: include information on the types of content you send out and how often, your social media channels, and any upcoming events.
Use this time to begin to acquire more info in your donor; you might want to include a very short survey about what brought them to you, what they are seeking from you or other details that will help you know your donor. The more detailed information you acquire about your new donor or member, the better you will be able to segment them properly and personalize the way you contact them.
Part of successful engagement with your donors and members is to show the impact your organization is having. Donors especially want to see what their contribution has done toward achieving your stated goals.
It is their funds that make things happen, let them be part of the effort and success. Just because they are not in the trenches with you doesn’t diminish the value of their contribution. Share the progress with those who helped make it happen. Keep the stories towards the shorter side, include the best images you can.
Anyone who makes the choice and effort to volunteer with you is amazing. Share that with others in your organization. Ask the volunteer to share their story.
Choose one or several, choose an event or program and give special attention to those people. Make sure it is a nice picture. Even people outside your organization will see the interest and care your volunteers provide. Sharing It gives your organization more credibility to share the experiences of those who volunteer to do the work.
4. More surveys
Everyone likes to be asked their opinion, so ask. Create surveys about new ideas, programs, or plans and priorities. Vary these, don’t make them all the same. Some can have nice images and color, and others may be best with just a form or plain text.
Design them so they are quick and easy, that will make it easier for most to complete and hit send rather than ‘I’ll come back to it’ and we all know what that means…..
Package little nuggets of facts, factoids, news items relevant to your work. You can give talking points about your cause and mission.
Infographics and other visual elements of the organization, the cause and your work would fit well here.
Did something happen out in the big bad world that is connected to your work and your people?
* Don’t Forget to Ask
It is still important to ask while all the other stuff is going on. Donors react to different things at different times, both with your organization and in their own lives. Weave a general request for funds in among your other communications. There is an underlying understanding that an ask is forthcoming, for an event, a campaign or program, at the end of the year. As long as there is both variety and value in the information you share and the solicitations will fall into place.
Be sure your communications and outreach efforts are woven with the fundraising messages and events; orchestrate your timing and campaigns to support your ongoing fundraising with variety in other contacts with your organization.
Be thoughtful about who you ask for what- segment your mailing list into the correct categories. Choose your language and message according to who you are asking. You will for sure talk to recurring donors differently than prospects; same for the categories you have devised. Having dedicated and designed messages for your various groups is key to better fundraising.
Communicating with your donors, volunteers,sponsors, partners, board members and prospects is not always an ask, its part of ongoing engagement with your partners. You want your readers to want to open your emails, to see what’s in there that continues to connect them to your mission. Make it fun, or at least interesting, for them to want to to see what you have sent.