Craft Your Communications Plan to Avoid the Revolt

If you didn’t know by reading the headline, I’m a Star Wars fan. Yes, I’m old enough to have seen the original films in the theater. So it’s no surprise that I married a man who has Chewbacca as his text tone. An incident recently got me thinking about the Chewbacca text tone and how many nonprofits communicate with donors.

Over the holidays, my daughter was home from college. We started a group text between my husband, daughter, and myself to keep up to date with our plans during the Christmas season. One day, while my husband was at work, my daughter and I got into a rather lengthy text conversation on the group chat. When my husband came home, the first thing he said to me was, “You and Michelle went wild! It sounded like a Wookie revolt!”

It got me thinking about how nonprofit communications can sound to donors and that we, as fundraisers, need to be mindful of our communications.

Here are some things to think about when you are thinking through your communications. My fundraising formula comes in handy here too.


Your Communications Need to be Relevant

Your communication with your donor needs to be relevant to your donor. One of the problems is my husband heard a Wookie revolt instead of information. My daughter and I were talking about things that weren’t relevant to my husband. We, admittedly, had gone way off and should have taken the conversation to a private text, not stayed in the group. How many times do nonprofits think they are providing “education” about their cause? The donor simply isn’t interested in being educated. They want to know what impact they are having in the world around them. They want to make a difference.


Your Communications Need to be Consistent

My daughter and I were consistent with our texts- one after the other- but the frequency was simply too much for my husband (especially at work). Donors are the same and it’s called donor fatigue. (In case you don’t know, donor fatigue is a condition where the donor begins to not pay attention to your messaging and/or stop donating because they are tired of being asked so much).  How can nonprofits be consistent and avoid donor fatigue?

  • Plan out your communications alternating these three categories
    • Thank you emails will follow the pattern:
      • Thank your donor for their donation/support
      • Tell them how their donation is being used
    • Mission related emails will follow the pattern:
      • Tell a story related to your mission. Think impact here.
      • Major donors your hero of the story
      • Thank them for transforming a life – helping your cause
    • Need/appeal will follow this pattern:
      • Tell us a story that illustrates the need
      • Ask
      • Thank
      • When did you have to turn someone away?
      • Is there a waitlist you want to help?

For a sample schedule, check out this article.

Consistency isn’t just for frequency. Consistent messaging is one of the most important activities you will perform in your marketing and fundraising communications and strategies. Paying attention to what you say to your donors and how you say it will bring them to your nonprofit organization and keep them coming back. When you get the messaging right, you will connect to your donors on a very personal basis which, in turn, means more donations and deeper connections. Remember, fundraising is about relationships first and money second.

If you aren’t familiar with messaging, it is a concept or idea you want your donors to understand. It also conveys the feelings you want your donors to experience. Learn more here.


Your Communications Need to be Intentional

Intentional means done on purpose, deliberate. Your communications cannot be haphazard or an afterthought. Your communications need a plan. Simply printing out a calendar and putting on it when your emails, social media posts, and any other communications (appeal letters, newsletters, etc) go out is the first step to intentional fundraising and communications.


Your Communications Need to be Focused

Your communications should always be focused on your Ideal Donor Avatar. Your donors will never be everyone. I believe its because we are all given specific attractions and skills to serve certain causes. Think about it, if everyone loved and was passionate about animals, who would take care of orphaned children? Certain people are called to certain causes. Your job is to find out who is called to your cause and talk to them.

Don’t let your communications sound like a Wookie revolt. Being relevant, consistent, intentional, and focused on your communications build your donor’s trust and leads you to more funding.


What is your next step to avoid the revolt? Tell me in the comments.

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