How to Create Your Caseload Communication Plan in 2 Hours or Less
When I first mention creating individualized 12-month communication plans for all 150 donors on your major gifts caseload to a fundraiser, I often get a blank stare. Initially, this sounds like a lot of touch points to create. And when you already have a full load, your gut reaction may be, “That sounds nice, but I don’t have time for this.”
But the truth is you can create the vast majority of your planning for each donor in less time than you think, especially when you take advantage of all the incredible resources to which you already have access.
12-Month Donor Communications Plan
First, let’s discuss how you create a 12-month communication plan. I recommend following this structure for each donor:
- Identify when you’ll be asking for a gift. That month’s touch point will be a donor offer.
- Build in the cultivation pieces needed to prepare the donor for the ask. What communication will the donor need? How can you connect them more deeply to their passions? What do you need to know in order to craft the offer? Who needs to be involved?
- Add stewardship. This should include any stewardship from other gifts the donor has already given, as well as any asks you plan to make within the next 12 months.
- Fill in personal connections.
Most likely, by the time you get to step No. 3, you’ll be well on your way to creating your 12-month plan.
Donor Communication Touch Points
Here are a few things to remember before you get started on your donor communications plan.
- Personalization. Personalizing touch points is critical for major donors, but that doesn’t mean you need to create each touch point from scratch. Get creative with tailoring what you have for the donor.
- Customization. This plan is not set in stone. As you learn more about the donor, you should adjust and further customize your plan.
- Cooperation. Consider which touch points may involve other people within your organization. If you need something from program to create a particular outreach message, make sure you connect with them as early as possible. Remember, your other team members are busy too.
- Flexibility. You don’t need to have every touch point fully fleshed out when you create your plan. It’s OK to have placeholders that you can adjust as you learn more about the donor or get closer to that point in time.
Creating meaningful touch points is such an important part of your work with donors. There will be a number of resources you may use from external entities or things you will need to create for a specific donor. But the key to effectively building your communication plan is to be strategic about how you use resources you already have.
Here’s a not-comprehensive list, but here are the kind of resources I’m talking about:
- Direct mail pieces, like year-end appeals or newsletters.
- Social media videos.
- Blog posts.
- Program update meetings hosted by the program lead.
- Internal meetings (Get approval for this first!)
- Stories from the program team.
- Articles shared by other team members.
The key thing to remember here is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Pull from communication others have already created. Use resources your team has already built. Don’t waste all this incredible content by thinking you need to create everything yourself.
5 Examples of Donor Touch Points
OK, so how does this work in practice? Here are a few real examples I’ve heard about personalized donor touch points that were incredibly effective.
1. Sneak Peek
A fundraiser got approval to share early architect drawings for a new building to share with key donors. The donors loved getting some insider information about the organization’s plans for expansion.
2. Face Time
Fundraisers invite donors to program update meetings or host specific Q&A sessions with the program lead where donors who support that program can learn, ask questions and hear about the need.
3. Mission-Associated News
Nonprofits use external articles from trusted news sources to speak to the bigger issue their organizations are addressing. In particular, one food bank shared an NPR article that had circulated through their organization about the food security issue with increasing food prices and how that was not just impacting the need but also the food bank’s ability to stock food. This was incredible validation for the organization’s programs and spoke to the bigger problem.
4. Personalized Direct Response
A great way to partner with direct response is by pulling some appeals or newsletters to add a special note before they’re sent out. If you aren’t able to do that, you can send a heads up or follow-up message. Something like:
“Hi Betsy, next week you should be receiving our quarterly newsletter. I think you’ll especially like the story on pages four and five, which feature more about our new support program for families of cancer patients. I’d love to hear your thoughts about it once you have a chance to read the article!”
5. Marketing Reshares
Donors often appreciate major gift officers sharing blog posts, social media posts and video content the organization’s marketing team has produced and shared. Often, they haven’t seen it yet, and it’s a great reinforcement of how the donor and organization are partnering together with their larger community to achieve the organization’s mission.
When you tap into the many resources already available in your organization, you’ll find that creating a 12-month communication plan for each donor on your major gifts caseload can be a breeze and ceases to feel overwhelming.
I hope this inspires you to not push off your planning and to make it happen!
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.