“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Strother Martin as the Captain in Cool Hand Luke
The nonprofit organizations I know that struggle to attract new supporters and cultivate growing donor support share the same problem. They have a problem communicating.
Communication is key to building relationships with potential or existing donors. To get people interested in what you do, you need to be able to tell them your story affectively. Whether it is in your organization’s brochures, your Facebook page, your website or when you meet them face to face, you have to be able to share your mission and your successes. You have to share information about how you help people and how many you have helped. How many people have you fed? How many animals have you rehomed? How many jobs have you helped people find? Whatever your missionis, people want to know what you do and how you do it, and if you can do that, they will want to help you and share in your success. If you cannot do that, they will look for another group to help succeed.
Many organizations fail to communicate often enough, They only send out letters or emails when they are asking for money. Some (but not all) will send an acknowledgement when they get a contribution, but then fail to continue the conversation. Some will occasionally send out an impersonal newsletter of little substance, but don’t tell compelling stories. Instead they talk about their need for more money without telling what they will do with it. Others will communicate more, but they will ask for money every time they do, instead of thanking every time they make contact.
In my opinion, organizations must improve how they communicate with their donors if they want to create partnerships with their supporters. They can’t just rely on writing an occasional letter asking for money. They must learn to engage their supporters with compelling stories and positive outcomes. They must also learn to ask questions to help them understand the supporter’s interests and passions. They need to make phone calls and meet their donors face to face. By doing so, they will express their desire to involve supporters in their activities, and donors will know they are not just using them as sources of income.
Certainly, it will take more time and effort to improve communication with donors, but by doing so, and organization will increase the participation and the passions of its supporters, and when that happens, partners will increase their investments of time and money to support the mission of the organization.