As we communicate with friends and loved ones, it is natural for the communication to take certain forms and convey various feelings. Interestingly, the same basic communication principles we use with those closest to us often apply to communicating with donors.
When we mail cards or letters to family and friends, we usually hand-address the envelope, put a first-class stamp on it, and begin the letter with “Dear _____”
When you receive this type of personalized correspondence among a handful of other mail, it is often the first thing you open. This, then, is a principle that can easily be applied to your donor communications. The more personalized the appeal package, the more likely your donors are to open it — and to respond to your request.
Obviously, due to financial constraints, it is not feasible to have a totally personalized appeal for every donor. That is why using your database and proper segmentation is vital to a successful fundraising program.
For those donors that give significant gifts, it is cost-efficient and good stewardship to send hand-addressed envelopes with a “real” first-class stamp (even better, use a commemorative and multiple stamps). For other donors, it is appropriate to laser the name and address on the carrier — sometimes in a handwritten font — and then to personalize the letter specifically with their first name instead of “Dear Friend.”
Certainly, many options are available for personalization, so you can get creative with your ongoing donor communications and keep them fresh and friendly.
When we receive a gift from family or friends, we say “thanks.” It is simply rude if we do not. The same applies to your donors.
Having a good receipt program is vital to your fundraising success. It can even provide as much as 20% of your income. Conversely, if you do not thank donors, you will eventually lose them.
Timeliness is the first and most important principle of a receipt program. Aim to mail the receipt within two to three days of receiving the donation. The longer you wait to send the receipt, the more income you will lose — and the more the donor will grow distant from you.
Second, good “thankful communication” often conveys how a gift has made a difference in someone’s life. This week I received a thank-you note for a wedding gift, and it said that my gift helped to purchase paint so the newly married couple could paint a room in their house. That made me feel good. I found out my gift helped make a positive impact in their lives.
Donors also like to know how their gift has made an impact in changing somebody’s life. Make it a point in your receipt letters to provide a story of how your donor’s gift has impacted an individual life. This will make the donor feel good — and they will want to give again.
As you integrate these two simple principles into your donor program, you will be well on your way to establishing a successful fundraising program that can help impact God’s kingdom for years to come.
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