May is the month we’ve all been patiently waiting for. We’ve endured the April showers and we’re more than ready to welcome in the warmer weather.
Around this time every year, we’re sitting down with clients and poring over results. For many, the fiscal year in only a couple of months in, but for all, the calendar year is over a quarter of the way through. It’s a good time to take stock of the goals we’ve mapped out for the year and gauge whether or not we’re on the right path.
That could mean assessing how your renewal appeal is performing. It could be looking at new creative and planning out various tests for the next few months. You do have a test or two in the works, right?
I hope part of your review also includes how you’ll communicate your stories with donors across all channels. How you’ll bring them closer to the work being done, thanks to their generous support. And how you’ll tell powerful and compelling stories that provide clear and tangible reasons to continue to support your organization.
Here are five simple tools for multi-channel integration across all channels (and raise more money!)
1. Report back on how donor support has made a difference
This can be a quick one-pager that highlights what was accomplished last year and how it’s helping advance your mission. Here’s a very clear and cost-effective way of doing just that!
This could also be a more thorough annual report that shares stories and outlines all you’ve accomplished together (charity + donor) this past year, including a financial overview. This can be produced for both mail and online access. Here’s a wonderful example of how to show impact AND make your donor the hero.
If you don’t have the budget to create a separate report, rest assured that the simplest and most effective way to communicate impact is through great storytelling. Stories like these can be recreated in various lengths and formats to serve for direct mail, email, website and social media.
2. Be clear about what it is you are raising money for this year
Donors want to be in the driver’s seat. They want to know exactly where their money will go and how it will help. Check out this simple and super-effective online priority needs list.
If you’re still predominantly focused on direct mail and have to work with existing appeal budgets, you can showcase what’s needed on the back of your reply coupons.
3. Don’t be afraid to show early success and reframe priorities
In this day in age when there are so many great charities and causes competing for donor dollars, donors expect transparency and accountability. What better way than to thank donors for their support and let them know that one or more priorities for the year have already been fully funded, but that there is still ongoing need.
How this can work for you: One of our local clients sends a short letter every December to let donors know what’s been accomplished to date, and what the urgent needs are. This past December, they had a direct mail donor respond to that mailing with a $50,000 donation to purchase a patient lift, one of the urgent pieces profiled in the letter! Up until that point, this donor had only ever made one in-memoriam donation.
4. Use a one-two punch (mail + email) to yield a better response
Once your direct mail letter has hit homes, it makes sense to repurpose copy for a follow up email to donors. We know it’s becoming increasingly common for traditional direct mail donors to read your letter, but choose to make their donation online. We also know that following up on a mail appeal with email typically boosts mail response by at least 1% and provides donors with a variety of options to engage.
How this can work for you: The same client mentioned above also received a $900 donation earlier this year in response to a follow-up email. The key is to ensure that you repeat funding priorities and how donors can help. The donor in this case responded with a donation amount equal to one of the priority items.
If you aren’t yet successfully leveraging digital channels to support your fundraising efforts and better engage donors, you may want to consider getting started with a digital audit.
5. Remind donors of your unique value proposition
It’s important that you take the time as part of every communication with your donors, to remind them of what makes your organization unique. Perhaps your hospital is exclusively focused on women’s health and gender-based research. Perhaps you help find homes for more puppies and kittens every year than some other local animal organizations, or you provide specialized mental health counselling for youth.
Remind donors about who you are and what it is you feel makes you stand out from other similar organizations – and then repeat that message by mail, email, on your website, on social media – everywhere. When faced with multiple charitable requests, you want your organization to be front and center in the donor’s mind. Check out Sick Kids Foundation’s Facebook page for many great examples of how they profile their work and keep in touch with donors via social media.
There are just a few ideas to help your organization achieve multi-channel connection with donors. It doesn’t need to be complicated and it doesn’t have to mean more work. Take your direct mail letter and repurpose copy for email, website or Facebook post.
Have you found a creative way to stay in touch with donors and report on your work? Do you need help with this? We want to hear from you.
This post was written by Heather Brown, former Philanthropic Counsel at Good Works and fundraiser extraordinaire.