27 Ideas for Communicating With Donors

There is a rule of thumb in the fund raising business that you should have SEVEN other contacts with your donor for every one time you ask for money. The reasoning behind this is that effective fund raising is about good relationships, and all good relationships rely on two-way communication and two-way benefit.

Making seven non-asking contacts is a formidable task, particularly if you are asking for funds more than one time each year. The task is virtually impossible without a solid communications plan.

What possible communication methods and “excuses” can we find for contacting our donors this often – particularly without “bugging” them? Here are a few ideas – 27, for starters – to jump start your donor communications plan. Pick the ones that work for you and fit your organization’s and donors’ “style,” and have fun with them!

1. call and say “thank you”
2. send an annual progress report
3. ask the donor’s advice on something of import to your organization
4. greet the donor by name at another community event, and reiterate your gratitude for his/her involvement with your project
5. respond to the donor’s inquiry in a timely manner
6. invite the donor to a groundbreaking or other historical event
7. respect the donor’s wishes, and let him/her know that you have done so
8. offer your donor the role of advocate for your organization in a critical situation
9. run a thank you ad in the media – including your donor’s name – and make sure the donor gets a copy
10. deliver homemade cookies
11. take time to talk
12. send a birthday card. On the donor’s birthday, on the agency’s birthday, on our country’s birthday
13. send the donor a copy of a news/feature story written and printed/broadcast about your project
14. honor and celebrate your donor or his/her colleague for the contributions made to your organization
15. share the success story of a client
16. invite the donor to speak at a staff meeting, donor function or other special event
17. have a picnic
18. request that the donor participate in a focus group to comment on the organization’s plans for the future
19. send the donor a memento from an event s/he was unable to attend
20. send the donor a copy of your new brochure
21. share statistical data that shows the success of your organization, particularly for a program that you know is of interest to the donor
22. give the donor a plaque or certificate to recognize his/her contributions
23. send a photo of a client
24. say “we missed you” when the donor has been absent for a time
25. praise the donor to his/her friends
26. send the donor a postcard from your vacation
27. recognize and acknowledge the donor’s personal needs and challenges.

There are LOTS more ideas where these came from, and you should add your own creativity to develop a plan for quality donor relationships. Third Sector Innovations would love to help!

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