Does Your Message Fit Into a Tweet?
Newsletters and special events comprise a pair of go-to fundraising strategies you can use to educate younger donors about new programs that go beyond the core services for which your nonprofit is best known.
To borrow Dr. Phil’s line, “How’s that working for you?”
You can’t put a two- or four-page letter or article in an email or tweet, or on Facebook. And good luck using long-format content to attract a big crowd for that three-hour special event you and your staff have spent months
The hard truth is that younger donors not only want more information in less time, but they prefer to give differently. Even the way they define what it means to be a donor differs from the generation that preceded them.
So what strategies do you adopt to re-educate your support base, while continuing to attract the new — and younger — benefactors that represent your future?
In the spirit of today’s 140-character, headline-news world, here’s my top 10 list:
1. Tell the truth and tell it often
Be honest with donors and prospects about what their gifts accomplish. You don’t have to give new donors an annual report, but you should create an annual plan of communications with them.
2. Use multimedia content
Post short videos (60 or 90 seconds) that describe who you are and what you do. Include testimonials of individuals who are receiving help. Don’t splinter off a program with its own identity. It’s all about consistency and relationship to the parent brand.
3. Tailor message to platform
Don’t try to explain the nuances of, say, a drug- and alcohol-recovery program on Facebook. Instead, show program participants taking part in the aspects of the program. And when you tweet, be laser-focused on a specific program or event.
4. Encourage tours and volunteer opportunities
Make sure tours and volunteer opportunities are publicized. Put them on a calendar in your newsletters, emails and even on the back of your direct-mail appeals. Have a consistent date, i.e., “every Thursday at noon,” and if there’s a meal served while the tour is being conducted, invite people to eat with you, your recipients and program guests.
5. Recruit ambassadors
Your board, major donors, staff and key volunteers can (and should) be great ambassadors. Work up a fact sheet with four or five quick points that ambassadors can use as handouts and talking points. Post the information on your website, and use a “Did You Know” fact each month in your newsletter.
It’s better to do one thing well than five things poorly. Focus on one new issue, program or service — and be relentless about promoting it.
7. Develop the middle
No matter how you define “middle donors,” these are givers who are committed to you and your mission. Find and cultivate relationships with them. These folks will more easily allow their perceptions to be expanded and will grow more loyal and supportive as a result.
Most of your new donors are going to come into the organization because of your core program appeal. So create a yearlong series of contact points — telephone, mail, email, tours, graduation invitations — that cross-promote your lesser-known program offerings. Start right away, even with the initial gift receipt.
9. Re-educate lapsed donors
How many of your donors give one gift and never give again? The percentage is climbing for everyone. Perhaps mail hasn’t worked. Initiate an in-house calling program, or work with a reputable telemarketer to develop a program that will reactivate these one-time givers.
10. Invest in major-donor development
Call your major donors. Issue a personal invitation to a graduation. Visit them in their homes or offices. In short, get to know them and let them get to know you.
And if you’re not the person to build one-on-one relationships with that younger, high-potential donor, hire someone who is.