There are plenty of ways to send a message. You could make a call, pay a visit, rent a billboard, write a letter, or even send a fax.
The ability of your nonprofit organization to ensure that your message actually reaches its intended recipients is just as important as the message itself.
One way to make sure that the right message reaches the right donor at the right time is to send it using the intended recipient's preferred method of communication.
To find out what that might be, answer the following questions:
Have you provided a way for donors to tell you how they want to communicate with your organization?
Unless you give them the option—and call this option to their attention—your organization won't be able to update their donor profile to best serve their needs.
One of the most popular ways to do this is to give your donors the option to make changes to their own profile. Many retailers are catching onto this trend, usually employed when a customer clicks "unsubscribe" on an email.
Customers are then taken to a page where they can edit the frequency (and often the content) of email communications to better suit their preferences.
For instance, your donor might be interested in a newsletter about saving lions in Africa, but they're not too jazzed about saving sharks in Australia. That's okay! Give them the choice to unsubscribe from your shark newsletter, but still get all the information they want about lions. (Or only receive emails about events, or only receive fundraising appeals by phone, etc.)
Are they then able to select their chosen means and/or frequency of communication and send this back to you?
If you want to fine tune your donor's communication preferences, your nonprofit needs to go beyond single selections. This means giving donors more options than simply electing to receive or not receive information from your nonprofit, or even indicating their most preferred method of contact.
But to really tailor your donor's experience, they should be able to indicate their communication preferences based on the type of communication indicated. For example, a donor might wish to read your marketing updates via email, but prefer to receive fundraising appeals and event invitations by mail at their home address, while sending tax receipts to their office address to file with their CPA. (StratusLIVE is built to manage these type of scenarios with our "community preferences" features.)
Some of the ways you can allow donors to submit their communication preferences to you include: a link at the bottom of e-mail communications, a pre-paid direct mail postcard reply, under their profile on your website, or even in person at at event.
No matter which method you chose, the donor must be able to get this information to you in order for you to add it to their profile within your CRM. Which brings me to the next question you should ask yourself...
Have you notated this preference on their profile within CRM?
There is no point surveying your donors and collecting responses if they will eventually end up in a folder somewhere, un-cataloged and un-recorded. Donor responses must be automatically uploaded into your CRM database and then correctly matched to each donor's respective profile.
The key to this step is making sure that the once the preferences are added to a donor's profile, it remains current and up-to-date. If you send out a new round of communication preference inquiries and you get a different answer, be sure to update the donor profiles with this new information.
A CRM that can handle across-the-board profile updates and contact matching (along with data enrichment where applicable) is absolutely crucial to maintaining data hygiene during this necessary step.
Do you take this preference into account when sending out communications?
Now it's time to use the knowledge you've gained in order to improve communications—and ultimately relationships—with your donors. Prove to them that you have taken the time to learn their likes and dislikes and then apply these preferences to your outreach.
As any nonprofit fundraiser knows, there is a lot to consider when reaching out to donors.
Whether the purpose is to provide updates on your fundraising activities, report on the impact of the organization within the community (i.e. accountability), or to appeal for support, donors want to hear from you.
When it comes to your message, the "how" is just as important as the "what".
For more information about StratusLIVE's capabilities, sign up for your free demo today.