Nonprofits rely heavily on the generosity of donors. Donor relations, also called donor stewardship, cultivate and nurture your project’s relationship with its supporters. A consistent stream of unrestricted dollars from individual giving will help cover overhead costs, provide the organization with flexibility to take advantage of opportunities that arise, and help build a reserve.
An effective donor relations strategy is intentional, proactive, and shows your supporters that the relationship is more than transactional. Knowing what you will communicate, how you will communicate, and when you will communicate to your donors will form the core of your donor relations strategy.
WHAT You Communicate to Your Donors
No matter how large or small the donation, a donor has invested in you and your project. As investors, how their money was used, what kind of impact it had, and the general activities of your project. These can be captured in a number ways which are listed below. Also, be sure to always show appreciation to your supporters.
- Stories of impact
- Metrics and numbers
- How your project fits within the issue area
- Updates on activities
- Details of how funds are used in your project
- Appreciation of their specific gift
- Level of support (amount raised, number volunteers, volunteer hours)
- Photos of how their gift support project activities
HOW You Communicate to Donors
There are a number of ways you can reach out to your donors. Using social media to message your donors is convenient, yet conventional methods can, at times, be more personal and effective. Reach out to donors by pairing a delivery method with a type of communication. Some examples include:
- Donation thank-you via mail or email
- End-of-year thank-you via postcard
- Donation thank-you via email and/or phone call
- Activity, event, and impact updates via newsletter
- Brief impact and activity updates through an extended donation thank-you letter
- Issue and advocacy message on Twitter or Facebook
WHEN to Communicate with Donors
To pull off your strategy and minimize stress, have specific dates and triggers as to when you will message donors. It’s easy to fall behind with sending thank you letters if you don’t stick to a routine. Also, your summer newsletter quickly slips to fall when unexpected emergencies take precedent. Some suggestions:
- Automate thank-you after online donations are received
- Mail thank-you letters within two days of donation receipt
- Fundraising consultant Kim Klein advises nonprofits to "Thank you before you bank."
- Post a video or photo of a successful event on Facebook or Instagram during or directly following event.
- Tweet a fact about your issue on Twitter