Every 10 Days, Come Rain or Shine ...
Three years ago, I mailed a $25 donation to a nonprofit organization. In the 1,105 days since, I have received 116 pieces of mail from it. That’s one every nine and a half days, on average, in case you’re curious. I have since given one other $25 donation, so the organization's gross income per mailing is 43 cents.
“How often should I ask?” That is one of the more common questions I hear. I always sense a bit of frustration when I say, “That depends …” (Although I can pretty much say with confidence that once every 10 days is too much.)
Your donors are like family members. Some prefer only to see you at the annual family reunion, but others want to know everything that is going on in your life.
In the donor world, some will “Like” you on Facebook, read your blog posts, follow you on Twitter, click through your e-mails, open mail from you with enthusiasm and look forward to your phone calls. Others won’t want to hear from you that much, but you must not let them to forget they have a relationship with you.
Here are a few cost-effective and donor-friendly ways to strengthen your relationships with occasional donors.
- Mail them your newsletter once a quarter (or at least once every six months), and send an electronic newsletter at other times.
- Use social media to your advantage. Update your blog regularly (at least weekly), making sure you provide updates, stories and interesting facts. Post links on Facebook and Twitter to announce new posts.
- Think about creative ways to tell your stories other than just through an appeal. For example, have a monthly e-mail full of success stories and no ask other than a “click here to donate” button. Your goal is to re-engage them with content.
- And when you ask infrequent donors for support, remind them that they have a relationship with you — and that you appreciate them. Open by mentioning all the great things you’ve accomplished “since we last heard from you.” Demonstrate how their investment several months ago was one of the best they have made all year.
How do small nonprofits grow and succeed? They talk to their donors frequently, both offline and online, and they nurture relationships. A letter every 10 days doesn’t do this — but neither does a mailing once a year.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.