When the problem is them, not you [Newsletter Tuesday]

Newsletter Tuesdays: A series about doing more with your donor newsletter.

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Here’s a painful truth: your newsletter might not work even if you’ve got the storytelling and headline-writing down perfect. Even if you’re doing everything well.

It’s the donors. Not you.

Some donors aren’t quite donors. They’ve given money, and that’s great. But their connection with you and your cause are weak or indirect. People such as:

  • Memorial or tribute donors.
  • Those who gave at an event.
  • Those who sponsored someone in a walk or run.
  • Crowd-funding donors.
  • Those who donated to get a raffle ticket or other thing of value.

Donors of these types aren’t as connected as those who gave specifically for the cause. Their hearts are less into it, they’re less committed, they might even be unaware of the cause.

So even the best-crafted donor newsletter is barely relevant for them. Telling them they helped make wonderful things happen just doesn’t mean much to them. It might even ring false.

When I see a donor newsletter that’s doing everything right but raising funds poorly, I usually find that it’s going to a donor base full of or heavily populated by these not-quite-donor donors.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t do the activities that bring in that type of revenue. It might be well worth your time and investment. But it’s not the same as relationship-based fundraising. It’s cash in the door, but not a sustainable funding model.

Also, when “real” donors do these things, it can increase their sense of connection, upgrade their giving, and improve their retention.

But you should probably rethink your donor newsletter if you have a lot of not-quite-donor donors.

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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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About the blogger

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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