Five Common Nonprofit Communication Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Nonprofit Communication is the key to successful fundraising. Are you properly communicating with your donors?
nonprofit communication text messages

Nonprofit Communication is the key to successful fundraising. Are you properly communicating with your donors?

Every nonprofit organization functions effectively due to its donors and supporters. Yet nonprofits often make similar mistakes that dissuade donors from contributing. Acknowledging and working on these pitfalls will help you communicate more effectively and attract more donors.

After all, donor communication is the key to growing your nonprofit community and reaching your fundraising goals. Here are five mistakes that you should avoid at all costs to grow your donor base and further your mission.

Lacking a proper donor communication strategy

One major mistake nonprofits make is failing to establish a strong communication strategy to engage with donors and supporters. Without it, connecting and getting your message across becomes difficult.

Your nonprofit communication strategy is vital to make your donors feel valued and influence their decision to support your cause. Let’s look at a few things to help you get started:

  • Define your communication goals– First, it’s important to think about what you’re trying to achieve with your donors and supporters. Are you trying to raise funds, forge better relationships, or both? Setting specific goals will help you track, achieve, and measure progress. It also makes it easier for you to optimize and improve your current plans based on your needs.
  • Create a calendar– Create a communications calendar to account for each channel of communications with donors. You can use phone calls, text messages, emails, etc. This way you’ll have a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve with each channel. If you’re new to social media then you should start off with Facebook or Twitter. And if you need to reach out to a younger audience then Instagram and Snapchat are where you should make your mark.
  • Keep your plan flexible and track your goal– Once you have your goals in place the next thing to do is follow-up and see what’s working. If you don’t see progress, make necessary changes.

Failing to communicate through diverse channels

Sticking to a single channel to communicate with donors is shortsighted. Donors are not all the same— they differ in age, gender, region, capacity, etc, which is why different channels of communication would appeal to different people.

Put simply, you need to have a multichannel communication strategy in place if you want to effectively communicate with your donors and supporters. Use different channels like:

  • Email– Email newsletters are something in which you should actively invest. Newsletters are essential communication tools which can engage, connect, and raise money for your organization. Moreover, newsletters build relationships with donors, drive traffic to your website, and gather event goers. But the most important thing is to keep it engaging. So you should develop content specific to your target audience, use links to direct users to the content they care about, make it easy to skip through, and provide an actionable call to action.
  • Phone calls– Making phone calls regularly to donors helps to retain them and boost engagement. Phone calls also make donors feel valued and encourage them to give more to your organization. A few things to remember while making calls: use the donor’s name and make sure to mention their contribution as well as how it helped your cause. If unavailable, send them a voicemail thanking them and requesting a callback.
  • Text messages– You can use texts to have personalized conversations with donors, keep them updated, rally support, and send out event invitations. Other than that, text messages help you stay in touch with donors even if they aren’t in town. Texts are useful to raise money for a cause, thank donors for their contributions, or raise awareness about a problem that your organization addresses.
  • Social media– You should share a variety of relevant information with donors and supporters through your social media profiles, but don’t overwhelm them with a lot of white noise. Aim to post consistently 3-5 times each day or week and vary the types of posts you share. You should share upcoming events, donation requests, organization success stories, post-impact videos, and even interact with donors’ posts.

Many of your donors and supporters respond better to only certain communication channels. Some may be completely blind to any call-to-actions, invitations, or other information shared on a single channel (email maybe). To avoid this, categorize your donors on the basis of the communication channel they prefer. Or you could simply reach out to them on different platforms, that is, if you send an email about an event follow up with a text or a phone call.

Your Messaging Isn’t Tailored

When you’re talking to your donors and supporters, a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t effective. You need to know what works well with your target audiences and hone your message for different sections within each group to get them to act.

Segmenting your donors into different groups is crucial to make sure that the right message is sent to the right person at the right time. You can accomplish this by breaking down your general audience into smaller groups like first-time supporters, first-time donors, recurring-donors, big-donors, event attendees, and third-party supporters. You might even consider creating donor personas to help with your asks and drive them to take an action.

Once you have these segments, it’s easy to create specific content for each category and build stronger relationships. Stronger bonds with donors help your organization receive a greater number of financial commitments from them.

You’re Not Focusing On Relationship-Building

The most common mistake nonprofits make is not fostering relationships with their donors and supporters. Without connecting, retaining donors is impossible.

Personal relationships are crucial when establishing trust. Easily establish these relationships by making sure that your written communications are transparent and clearly define your goals or actions meant to be taken.

Once you have a donor’s attention, don’t just jump straight to the ask! Engage the donor and build the relationship. Focus on getting them to attend your events. Ask for suggestions and participation in volunteer work. Make them feel like a part of your team.

The easiest way to achieve this is through text messages, which you can personalize for each donor or supporter. Use the donor’s first name and tailor the message to appeal to their unique needs and interests. A personalized text grabs their attention, makes them feel important, provides information, and makes them feel like they can’t afford to miss your event.

You Talk about the “How” instead of the “Why”

Most of the time nonprofit organizations end up talking about how they do their work rather than why they do it. After all, you’ve worked hard to solve an important problem with persistence and dedication. But to get people to appreciate your efforts, you need to give them context. Make them care. This means you have to talk about the “why” before you talk about the “how.”

First, talk about the challenges you addressed, then move on to telling them how you solved them. This will get donors to connect with you on an emotional level and you can easily spur them to action.

Don’t assume that your donors and supporters know everything about you. Just because they’ve decided to donate does not mean they have a complete understanding of why your work is important and what you do. So make good use of every opportunity you get to give them the full story about the challenges your organization addresses.

Avoid All Five Mistakes

Take some time and think about these five mistakes, find the one you’re making, and resolve it right now! This way you can avoid them altogether while reaching out to new donors and supporters.

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