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10 Questions to Ask Yourself about Each Donor Communication

You’re at the approval stage of a key communication piece for your nonprofit. The writer has written the piece to your creative team’s specifications. Your designer has laid it out beautifully. All it needs is your approval. It’s ready to go. But wait! Before you send out that communication, take a moment to ask yourself these 10 questions to make sure your ministry’s communication is as effective as possible.

  1. What need(s) are we meeting for our donors?
    Often donors join your mission because a need of theirs is being met. These needs might be a deeply personal need, an immediate social need, or a larger societal need. Understanding the needs that drive your donors is a key part of meeting those needs.

  2. Does this provide answers or inspiration? Which do our donors want?
    Once you understand the needs your donors, it’s easier to understand what they are looking for from your ministry. Those needs will dictate the kinds of communication your donors respond to—and they should be reflected in each piece you send out.

  3. Are we communicating the overall mission consistently and continually while still explaining short-term plans?
    It’s easy to get caught up in a project and forget to communicate how that project is part of something greater. For instance, if you are building a school in a third-world country, you may need to teach your donors about your greater mission of changing the economic landscape of Africa. Without that training, your donors will lapse once the school is built, thinking that they are no longer needed.

  4. Do our donors understand how the short-term plans affect the overall mission?
    Your short-term plans must feed into the overall mission, or vision. If donors don’t see this connection, they will assume that your mission has changed—and they’ll be more likely to lapse if they don’t understand the connection.

  5. Do our donors understand how they are part of the solution?
    Donors want to be part of the solution. If your communications are filled with constant asks or problems, they may lose sight or lose heart that they can be part of the solution.

  6. Do our donors see themselves in the communication?
    Donors want to feel as though they are part of your ministry. They have a stake in its success. Their specific contribution should be included in each communication.

  7. Do our donors understand our jargon?
    It’s easy to get caught up in your organization’s internal workings and forget that donors don’t understand or even care about the jargon you use. Many phrases and titles are only important if your donors understand them.

  8. Is our wording simple without talking down to our donors or making them feel manipulated?
    Donors appreciate authenticity. They don’t want communication that talks over their heads or makes them feel stupid. And while emotion is an important part of donor development and communication, there is a line between sharing a need and manipulation—and donors are very aware of when that line is crossed.

  9. Do our donors feel appreciated?
    No one wants to feel like a paycheck. Your donors want to feel valued for their contribution. Encourage this by asking for more than just their money. Also ask for their prayers and consideration.

  10. Is our communication piece visually appealing?
    Visual appeal takes more than pretty pictures. It’s about making donors want to read your piece. Is the type easy to read? Is there enough white space? Are the paragraphs short and easy to scan? Even the best copy will be useless if no one reads it.

Bonus: Are we able to track this piece?

Though a bonus, this may be one of the most important questions. Every piece you send out should have the ability to be tracked. You need to see who responds, who doesn’t respond, how quickly donors respond, and what percentage doesn’t open it at all. This knowledge leads to more targeted communication.

DonorDirect’s StudioEnterprise with Advanced CRM makes this—and much more—possible. With StudioEnterprise, you’re able to create detailed profiles that segment donors based on projects and responses. You’re even able to nurture donors with personalized messages.

Before you allow one more donor communication to leave your office, make sure you ask yourself these 10 important questions. Doing so allows you to engage more effectively with the donors who are the lifeline to your organization…and your mission.