Don’t Go Dark on Your Donors

Stay in Touch

By Kathy Swayze

March 30, 2020

We are all in uncharted territory. To be fair, the decisions are coming at a rapid pace for many organizations.

But we do know this . . . you MUST keep in touch with your donors. If we do this right, it’s possible to not only use this moment to maintain relationships, but actually deepen them. People are opening their hearts in new ways. They are looking for ways to define who they are and how they can help. They are connecting with their deepest values.

Donors are looking to trusted organizations for a way to make sense of this, to find their footing and to express their values in the world. So, please don’t go dark on your donors now. Here are five ways to stay in touch that will pay dividends later:

  1. Continue sending stewardship materials. People—at least those without small children home from school—have more time to fully read your newsletters or impact reports right now. Sharing your organization’s stories and updates gives your donors something to read other than the increasingly frightening news. And, they get to see how they’re making a difference, even at this difficult time.
  2. If your major gift officers have been grounded from travel, start making phone calls to donors to just check in on them. This is also a great time to try texting your donors using Hustle or another platform. Everyone is home and this is a great time to connect and say, “thank you,” “how are you?” and “our ability to respond during this crisis is thanks to you.” Check on them as if they are a family member, because they are!
  3. Increase your presence on social media. Provide updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and all your social platforms on an accelerated schedule. Make sure team members who are working at home are geared up to engage and be responsive to all social media and blog posts. Create opportunities for donors to engage with you by taking an action, filling out a survey, or sending a message to others in need.
  4. Add a mention of donor advised fund gifts in all communications. Consider adding a buckslip about DAFs to your mailings. Some donors may be feeling nervous about money (though we shouldn’t assume that), but many people already have funds in a DAF that are designated for charity. Now is the time for donors to use them!
  5. Form a development contingency planning task force. Look ahead to all fundraising and stewardship efforts for the next six months, and ask, how can we make this stronger? Perhaps add an extra appeal to your very best donors? Or an additional stewardship touch? More emails? A homepage shadow box takeover? It’s time to get creative.

YOU have the power to help your donors fulfill their hopes and dreams for humanity at this very difficult time. Don’t deprive them of that. And, remember, we are all in this together. If you want to discuss anything about your fundraising program, reach out to us by email and we can schedule a time to talk, free of charge. The work you do is important and we are here to help.

-By Kathy Swayze

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