The real danger: You aren’t communicating enough with your donors

One of the most terrible and lasting fears of fundraisers is that they’re annoying their donors by communicating with them too much.

Let me tell you what you should really be afraid of — what should make you wake up in a cold sweat because it’s far more likely and much more damaging to your fundraising revenue over time:

Donors forgetting about you because you don’t communicate with them enough.

Here’s a post from the Fundraising Authority blog that can help you with the serious threat of donors losing track of you: Don’t Let Your Donors Forget About You:

… you eat, sleep, and breathe your mission and the work of your non-profit every day. It’s easy to think that your donors do the same… that they read your website every day, anxiously await your next e-mail, and think about your non-profit in the shower. I hate to break it to you, but this isn’t the case. Your donors are busy, and your non-profit is just one of the many things on their minds.

Two suggestions from the blog:


  1. Communicate With Your Donors at Least Once Per Month
  2. Make Your Communications All About Them

There are several more, too.

The important thing, though, is to think realistically about the amount of communication that helps or hurts your relationships with your donors.

Donor do complain about too much. Especially this time of year, when it really ramps up. But what they’re usually complaining about is the volume that’s clogging their mailbox (or inbox) on any given day. Not the volume that comes from you alone.

If you stop communicating with your donors, there will be no meaningful decrease in the daily barrage of mail.

Except you won’t be there. So the donor won’t and can’t give to you. Or be reminded of your good cause.

Every day you lose donors who basically just forgot you existed, or started giving to someone else, having confused them with you. That happens orders or magnitude more often than the too-much-mail complaints so many of us let rule our nightmares.


Comments

2 responses to “The real danger: You aren’t communicating enough with your donors”

  1. I agree with everything that has been said in this post.
    I ignore the majority of emails that come into my personal inbox because of the sheer volunme of them. However, as a regular giver to several different charities, I always take the time to read the email updates they send me. Unfortunately, almost all of these email updates are a plea for more money. What I really want to hear about it what the Charity has been doing. Recent news, any changes to their structure and governance, new appointments etc. By choosing to donate to the Charity I have expressed my interest in them, therefore I obviously want to hear what they have been doing.
    One of the charities I support does not send out regular updates, and what happens exactly as mentioned in the article – I forget they exist. If I chose to do a charitable event or make an extra donation etc. they will therefore be the last ones on my mind.
    However, working in the field of communications for a charity (The Air Ambulance Service) I can see the other side of the coin. I’m always suprised for find journalists continually interested in my press releases – but then this is because they do not live and breathe the organisation as I do.
    In summary – I think it’s better to bother donors with too much communication than not enough. They may delete the email without reading it – but at least they’ve been reminded of your organisation.

  2. I agree with everything that has been said in this post.
    I ignore the majority of emails that come into my personal inbox because of the sheer volunme of them. However, as a regular giver to several different charities, I always take the time to read the email updates they send me. Unfortunately, almost all of these email updates are a plea for more money. What I really want to hear about it what the Charity has been doing. Recent news, any changes to their structure and governance, new appointments etc. By choosing to donate to the Charity I have expressed my interest in them, therefore I obviously want to hear what they have been doing.
    One of the charities I support does not send out regular updates, and what happens exactly as mentioned in the article – I forget they exist. If I chose to do a charitable event or make an extra donation etc. they will therefore be the last ones on my mind.
    However, working in the field of communications for a charity (The Air Ambulance Service) I can see the other side of the coin. I’m always suprised for find journalists continually interested in my press releases – but then this is because they do not live and breathe the organisation as I do.
    In summary – I think it’s better to bother donors with too much communication than not enough. They may delete the email without reading it – but at least they’ve been reminded of your organisation.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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