Personalized communications drive donations

If you're looking to make the end of the year a success for your organization, customized appeals may make your campaign more effective. A one-size-fits-all approach to donor engagement is no longer enough. Contributors who have been involved with your cause for a long time won't respond to the same kind of messages as new donors. In fact, treating loyal constituents the same as other contributors may alienate them. 

Personalized communications can make donors feel more connected to your charity, which keeps them involved in the long term. Fortunately, you may be able to create different segments within your donor management software to utilize more relevant messages. This is key to maximizing the effectiveness of your year-end campaigns. 

Identifying different types of donors
The first step to creating a more personalized communication strategy is splitting up your donor database into different groups, according to Nonprofit Marketing Guide. The three main donor categories are new contributors, retained individuals and lapsed donors. It's important to create a separate communication strategy for each to speak to their unique concerns and interests. This can lead to each group being more engaged, and it may help you bring back donors the organization may have lost contact with. 

Here's a look at how to communicate with each contributor segment:

New donors
The message donors receive right after making their first gift to your organization can determine whether they contribute again. While a thank-you note is always important, you need to ensure you don't send a generic message whenever possible. Your first communications should be centered around stewardship, npENGAGE suggested. Using a welcome series can show new donors what your organization is all about. This series can contain 2 to 3 emails and may be more successful if at least one is a personal message from a program director or some other high-level employee. An email written by a specific person can help you avoid sounding too formal.

Starting the relationship off on the right note is crucial for creating long-term loyalty. New donors need a different kind of stewardship after their first gift.

Retained contributors
This group of donors is already the most loyal, but this doesn't mean you can overlook them in your communications strategy, Nonprofit Marketing Guide said. While they may be happy to read your newsletters and annual appeals, you need to stay consistent. You can target retained donors with social media outreach campaigns, and be sure to send them invitations to galas and other events. This can pay off because this group will continue to give.

Lapsed donors
Constituents may stop giving for a variety of reasons, so the lapsed donor segment needs special attention. Specific contributors who have given high amounts in the past may need personalized notes, phone calls or emails to return to the organization. One way to bring people back is to set up a matching campaign for this segment. A board member can match gifts so donors can double their impact. Re-engaging lapsed donors can be highly beneficial for your nonprofit. 

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