10 Donor Communications Best Practices

If you want to improve your donor communications, start with these 10 best practices.

As a fundraiser, you know that donor communications are key to building and maintaining relationships with your supporters. But with so many channels and so much noise, it can be hard to know where to start.

In this article, we’ll share 10 best practices for donor communications, so you can make the most of your time, energy, and resources. From segmenting your list to personalizing your messages, these tips will help you craft more effective donor communications and build deeper relationships with your supporters.

1. Don’t use jargon

Jargon is defined as “specialized or technical language.” In the nonprofit sector, we use a lot of jargon. We talk about our “programs,” which are really just the work that we do to achieve our mission. We ask people to make “donations,” when what we really want them to do is give money to support our cause.

The problem with jargon is that it can be exclusionary. It can alienate people who don’t understand it, and it can make your organization seem unapproachable.

When you’re communicating with donors, always use language that is clear and easy to understand. Avoid using acronyms or abbreviations, and explain any terms that might be unfamiliar to your audience.

2. Be specific about how donations will be used

When donors give to a cause, they want to know that their money is going to be used in the most efficient way possible to create change. They want to see that their donation is making a tangible difference.

Being specific about how donations will be used helps build trust with donors and shows them that you are good stewards of their money. It also allows donors to see the direct impact of their donation, which can motivate them to give again in the future.

3. Show the impact of your work

When donors give to your organization, they want to know that their money is going to good use. They want to see that their donation is making a difference in the world.

One of the best ways to show impact is through stories. Share stories of how your organization has helped people in need. Show pictures and videos whenever possible. These stories will help donors feel connected to your work and inspired to give again.

It’s also important to be transparent about how you’re using donor funds. Donors should be able to see exactly where their money is going. When they can see that their donation is being used wisely, they’ll be more likely to give again in the future.

4. Use a compelling subject line

Your subject line is the first thing donors will see when they receive your email, and it’s what will determine whether or not they open it. If your subject line is boring or doesn’t make sense, donors are likely to delete your email without even reading it.

To write a good subject line, think about what would make you want to open an email. Some things to consider are using personalization, urgency, or curiosity. For example, “You’re invited: Join us for our annual gala!” is more likely to get opened than “Save the date: Our annual gala is coming up.”

Don’t forget to test different subject lines to see what works best for your organization. Try A/B testing with a small group of donors to see which subject line gets more opens and clicks.

5. Keep it short and sweet

When you’re trying to communicate with someone who is already busy and has a lot on their plate, you need to be respectful of their time. The last thing you want to do is send them a long, drawn-out message that they’ll never read.

Instead, focus on getting your point across in as few words as possible. Be clear, concise, and to the point. Your donors will appreciate it, and they’re more likely to actually read (and act on) your message.

6. Personalize the message

When you personalize your message, you’re speaking to the donor as an individual. You’re not just sending out a generic message that could be going to anyone. You’re showing that you know who they are and what their interests are.

Personalization can be as simple as using the donor’s name in the subject line of your email or letter. It can also be more complex, like tailoring your content to match the donor’s interests.

No matter how you choose to personalize your message, doing so will show your donors that you value them as individuals and not just as sources of funding.

7. Make sure you have a clear call to action

Your donor communications should always have a specific purpose. Whether you’re trying to increase donations, promote an event, or raise awareness for your cause, your call to action should be clear and concise.

If your call to action is confusing or buried in the text, your readers are less likely to take action. So make sure your call to action is prominently displayed and easy to understand.

8. Include links to social media

When you include links to social media in your donor communications, you make it easy for donors to connect with you and stay up-to-date on your work. Additionally, when donors share your content on social media, it helps increase your reach and visibility.

Make sure to include links to all of your organization’s social media accounts, and be sure to include icons or images that clearly indicate which platform each link goes to. You can also include social media sharing buttons on your website or blog to make it even easier for donors to share your content.

9. Send thank-you emails promptly

Your donors have just taken the time and effort to make a gift to your organization. They’re feeling good about their contribution, and they’re eager to see the impact of their donation.

If you wait too long to send a thank-you email, that positive feeling may start to fade. The donor may start to wonder if their donation was received, or if it made any difference at all.

On the other hand, if you send a thank-you email right away, you can keep that feeling of goodwill alive. The donor will be reassured that their donation was received and put to good use, and they’ll be more likely to give again in the future.

So how quickly should you send a thank-you email? As soon as possible! Ideally, you should send an automated thank-you email within 24 hours of receiving a donation.

10. Ask for feedback

When you ask your donors for feedback, you’re not only getting valuable information that can help you improve your fundraising efforts. You’re also showing them that you care about their opinion and want to make sure they’re happy with their experience giving to your organization.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your donors and ask them how you’re doing. It’s a great way to build relationships and keep your finger on the pulse of your donor base.


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