Most nonprofits receive funding from a variety of sources, including grants, investments, event revenue, and corporate sponsorships. But the bulk of nonprofit revenue comes from individual donations, which is why your organization likely spends more time working to bring in these contributions than any other type of funding.
Supporters are most likely to donate when they feel like your nonprofit values them as individuals and they know their contribution will make a difference. So, boosting donations to your organization relies on communicating regularly and strategically with donors.
To start developing your organization’s donor communication strategy, make sure to invest in the right nonprofit software early on for your fundraising and marketing needs. In this guide, we’ll walk through four best practices for nonprofit donor communication.
1. Understand Your Audience
The most effective donor communication strategies are data-driven. Analyzing and managing donor data effectively helps your nonprofit deepen relationships with donors and find opportunities to make fundraising asks.
Some donor data points to track include:
- Demographics such as a donor’s age, location, education, employment information, family status, and wealth.
- Giving history including the frequency, recency, amount, and format of each contribution.
- Additional engagement data like event attendance, volunteer hours, or involvement in advocacy work.
- Relevant interests and motivations for getting involved with your organization or cause.
- Communication preferences such as email, phone call, or text.
Use this data to create donor segments who share several of these characteristics. For example, you might have one segment of older, wealthy donors who mail in personal checks each year. Or, you may have a segment of young, less wealthy donors who give smaller amounts online in addition to volunteering and participating in advocacy activities.
2. Leverage Multiple Communication Channels
For your organization to reach and engage every donor segment effectively, you’ll need to use a variety of communication channels. Try creating content for:
- Your organization’s website. This channel is the main hub of information about your nonprofit for new and existing supporters, so make sure it’s accessible and user-friendly for all audiences.
- Email marketing. Regular newsletters and information blasts allow donors to have the latest updates from your nonprofit delivered to their inboxes, and donor thank-you emails allow supporters to feel appreciated.
- Social media. Which platforms you prioritize will depend on your audience’s preferences. For example, Facebook is the favorite social media platform of donors in their 30s and 40s, while supporters in their 20s often enjoy Instagram and TikTok.
- Flyers. Whether they’re printed or digital, flyers catch supporters’ attention so you can direct them to your website to learn more.
- Digital ads. Both Google and Microsoft offer ad grant programs where eligible nonprofits can receive free advertising space on search engines.
- Direct mail. Although most nonprofits prioritize digital marketing, print channels like direct mail are still effective as you can add individual details or even handwrite messages to specific donors, adding a personal touch to donor communications.
Use your marketing software to track data from each of these communication channels to determine which ones are receiving the most traction. You can then adjust your strategy to put more of your time and resources into the communications that your donors respond best to.
3. Personalize Your Messages
Using multiple channels to communicate with donors allows your nonprofit to balance broader marketing appeals with individual outreach. While your website, social media posts, flyers, and digital ads serve to attract as many donors as possible, email marketing and direct mail appeals help you connect with donors one on one.
The key to making donors feel valued and inspiring them to stay involved with your nonprofit is personalizing your direct communications with them. Even if you’re sending an automated thank-you email or an information blast to hundreds of donors, many email marketing platforms will allow you to add personal details such as donors’ names and contribution amounts to each message. You can then use your donor database to send additional information about events, campaigns, or volunteer opportunities that would interest specific supporters.
For example, let’s say an animal shelter started a pet sponsorship program. They could personalize their thank-you messages by including each donor’s name, their monthly donation amount, and the name and photo of the animal they’re sponsoring. Then, they would note in their database which donors sponsored dogs and which donors sponsored cats to create targeted email lists for promoting upcoming dog and cat adoption events.
Additionally, remember that building personal relationships with donors becomes more important as you ask for larger donation amounts. While general communications work for most small donors and some mid-tier supporters, you’ll need to dedicate more effort to personally reaching out to and stewarding each of your major donors to secure their vital gifts for your nonprofit.
4. Include a Call to Action
In both direct communications and broader marketing appeals, make sure to ask donors to take a next step. Your call to action could ask donors to:
- Donate to a giving campaign
- Sign up to volunteer
- Register for a fundraising event
- Give feedback through a survey or comment form
- Learn more about your organization’s purpose by reading a resource or contacting you
To get donors’ attention, keep your calls to action short and direct, and use active verbs, such as “Sign up Now!” or “Donate Today!” Make sure that donors can take action immediately in a way that aligns with the communication channel as well. For instance, you can link to a registration form in the caption of a Facebook post about an event, include a QR code on a flyer leading to your online donation page, or provide a return envelope for checks with direct mail messages.
Donor communication is critical for your nonprofit to retain your existing donors, attract new supporters, and bring in much-needed funding. If you first understand your audience, you can send targeted messages across a variety of channels that inspire donors to take action. Invest in specialized tools to help you analyze data and develop an effective communication strategy that fulfills your organization’s needs.