Welcome to the Family Reunion!
We talked about the present. Because, like your donors, our family group doesn't get together often, much of our "conversation" takes place through annual Christmas cards and Facebook posts.
It's been said that "a letter is a conversation in print." That applies to any written communication you have with your donors, online or offline. It's important that they know what you are doing right now — what excites you, what are the challenges you face, what have been the big changes since you last "talked."
My personal beef — we send out fundraising appeals saying that we need to raise $X to do Y. But then, we often don't tell the donors if we achieved that goal. We may report on it in our newsletter in a year or two, but donors who responded to our request deserve to know if we "made it." I know that people give to need, not to accomplishments, so I'm not suggesting you muddle your ask by reporting on another project. Rather, close the loop through a newsletter or update so the people who helped you meet a specific challenge know quickly if you succeeded so they can celebrate that, too.
We talked about the future. Our personal lives aren't stagnant, and neither is the life of your nonprofit. What are you seeing on the horizon that will give your donors a sense of the progress you — and they through their donations — are making?
Great turnarounds because of your work should not just be delegated to the statistics page of an annual report. Make sure your donors know that "when we accomplish this in the next X months, this will happen …" Show how you are moving forward to meet new challenges, not just doing the same thing over and over. (You may have a great program that doesn't change much, and that's OK — just find ways to talk about it that bring out a fresh angle.)
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.