Acknowledge your supporters properly. Protect your revenue stream. Keep volunteers in your corner. The trick? Increase your communication frequency. No matter how tight the budget, no matter how busy you are, I bet you can communicate more and communicate better.
Communicate more and better! Why? How?
THIS IS WHY…
In “Donor-Centered Fundraising” author Penelope Burk quotes from fundraising research:
“46 percent of donors decide to stop giving for reasons that are tied to lack of meaningful information or to a feeling that their giving is not appreciated.”
Think about that! “…lack of meaningful information…” “…a feeling their giving is not appreciated…”
AND THIS IS HOW…
Here is a tool to address those feelings – and the revenue hemorrhage they cause. It may be the right technique for you and your colleagues to personally and persuasively honor achievement, cultivate affinity and acknowledge generosity. I used it heavily when I was managing nonprofit marketing and fundraising programs.
It worked for me. It works for Sarah Mackey. (Her blog identifies Sarah as “A young professional navigating the maze of nonprofit management.”) she explains how effective that simple, basic and much-appreciated professional tool can be for your nonprofit. I have marked her great advice in red…..
Note cards: Simple. Affordable. Personal.
However, the personal note card is often overlooked as an effective communication tool. In these days of modern technology and social media, nonprofits are often striving to keep up with the newest form of communication. I am a true believer in technology, but I also urge nonprofit professionals to pick up your pens and write an “old fashioned” note to someone.
Here are some ways writing notes can benefit your nonprofit:
FUNDRAISING: Handwritten notes are great tools to build relationships with donors. I write notes not to ask for money, but to give a personal thanks to donors for their donation. (in addition to the form letter they receive for tax purposes)
This year, during the month of December, I sent a number of note cards to key donors, sharing with them how grateful I am for their support and telling them how their donation made a difference in helping us fulfill our mission in 2011. I even included a photo of a family served by our organization this year. It was very well received by our donors!
NETWORKING: What better way to connect with others than to send them a note congratulating them or recognizing their achievements? Perhaps their recent promotion is in a newspaper clipping you can send them, or maybe they recently celebrated a life cycle event (wedding, birthday, birth of a child), or perhaps you enjoyed the program they presented at a recent luncheon… whatever it is – consider it an opportunity to connect with them via a handwritten note and further build your relationship.
VOLUNTEER RECOGNITION: Handwritten notes are great ways to recognize volunteers that go above and beyond in supporting your organization. Yes, I am sure many of your organizations present plaques, certificates or some sort of chotskies to volunteers… but a personal note from the organization recognizing them and communicating to them how valuable their work is to the organization is also very valuable.
1. Use branded note cards. Have your nonprofit organization’s logo prominently displayed on the note card. This reinforces your organization’s brand.
2. Use a real stamp. Metered postage doesn’t count as personal… put a real stamp on the letter. After all, in order for the message to be effective, it has to be opened and read.
3. Re-read before mailing. Especially with the absence of spell check, and just to be safe… be sure and take a second glance before sending.
But most importantly, the key is to make it a habit. When you make it a habit to write personal notes to others, you can stay out of the “I don’t have time” trap, and you realize that with only a few minutes of your time, and at a very low cost, you can create a very personal and effective communication with an individual important to your organization.
In this time of stress on your mission and your donors, you must communicate more and better. The simple note-card – something our grandmothers used – is a pretty simple and enormously effective way to do just that. You will not spend time in writing those notes – you will invest time!