Have you ever had a conversation with your television? You know, one where you are screaming at the actor to look behind them or trying to convince a contestant to pick door #2?

While not the most perfect example of talking at people, it does spotlight a problem that I see many nonprofits make when communicating with donors.

Fundraising communications is meant to be a conversation – not a one-way street.

I understand you have a lot to share with your peeps. But being all talking and no listening makes donors feel used, invisible and unheard. And that is NOT how we want our valuable supporters to feel after hearing from us.

So, here are a few tips for authentically engaging with your donors in your fundraising communications:

1. Connect with them more often. If you are only sending one newsletter a year, then you are cramming a lot of information into a few pages, which can be overwhelming. Try sending information more frequently and in a variety of mediums.

2. Provide more quality and less fluff. Keep your donors in mind and only send them info that they would truly care about reading.

3. Give them a chance to ask questions, provide feedback and be heard. Whether through a survey or just simply asking them outright, invite donors to speak out.

4. Consider a variety of communication methods. Some people love printed newsletters. Others prefer email newsletters. Find ways to spread your reach by incorporating variety to your communications mix – email, social media, print, video, phone calls, live events, …

5. Make it super easy to contact you. That means adding staff email addresses and phone numbers (with extensions). Just sharing the general contact info tells donors that you really don’t want to be bothered. Invite them to connect with you.

6. Show you are listening by including donor ideas and comments in your correspondence. Add quotes from your Facebook page to your newsletters or write blog posts around a donor question. Find ways to show your donors that you hear them and that what they have to say matters to your organization.

7. Use this rule of thumb: One call-to-action per communication. What does that mean? If you send an email, don’t ask them to sign a petition, register for a seminar, read a report and buy tickets to your gala. That is way too much activity. Keep it to one action item per outreach (two, max) to make it easier for people to know what exactly what you want them to do.

Use these communications tips to keep your donor’s best interest in mind, while keeping them interested in what your organization is doing. THAT will set the stage for sustainable fundraising!

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