According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report, 105% of donors gained by nonprofits were offset by lapsed donors.  Let that sink in for a minute: for every 100 new donors that came through the door, 105 walked out.  Not exactly the growth most nonprofits are looking for.


One of the best ways to improve your donor chum rate is to improve your donor communications.


Here are six of the worst donor communication mistakes, and some tips for how to avoid them:


1.       The “One and Done”

Sadly for some donors, the only “communication” they receive from the nonprofits they support is a donation receipt.  Others may receive a nice thank you letter, but not much else.


How to avoid:  Plan a series of outgoing communications with your donors. In addition to your nonprofit newsletter, provide quarterly updates for donors on the impact of their gifts, and show what goes on behind the scenes to make it happen.  Create an editorial calendar and include your donor outreach as one key component to track.


2. The "Me Me Me"

Some causes suffer from nonprofit narcissism.  They mean well, but their messages are devoid of one key ingredient:  the donor. People who support your work also want to feel like part of your team.


How to avoid:  Instead of talking only about the work you are doing, reframe your communications to underscore how the donor is making your work possible.  Use the word “you” more than “we” and highlight the work of individual donors and volunteers to bring these stories to life.


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Prepared by Cary Stein, VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good