Somya Qureshi

Somya Qureshi

Last month we heard from Somya Qureshi from on the easiest place to get started with collecting data. Today she has some ideas on how to take that donor data and turn it into a communications startegy. ~Kivi

In the last post, I talked about some of the basic metrics that nonprofit organizations could start measuring regularly in order to track donors to ensure that the donor base grows over a period of time.

Now that these different kinds of donors have been identified, as retained, new and lapsed donors, the next step is to explore customization of your marketing communication to address specific needs of these identified segments.

Incorporating simple tweaks into the over all communication strategy can grow the donor base substantially and lead to better pay-offs over time.

Here are some of the strategies to consider:

donor communication strategyRetained Donors

These are your most loyal donors; those who give to your organization year after year. While you cannot take their loyalty for granted, they definitely are happy with your current communication style. They love reading your newsletters, are prompt at opening your emails, may have served on the Board or committee in the past/present, and volunteer often and/or involved in some capacity in your organization.

Also, retained donors form the most important segment of them all (assuming they have given for years in a row!) and if nurtured and cultivated well, they go on to form major donors, future Board members, capital campaign supporters etc. 

Communication Strategy for Retained Donors: Keep up with regular communication strategy of newsletters, appeals, emails, invitations, stewardship and cultivation plan and social media outreach.

New Donors

 During different times of the year, new donors get acquainted with your organization and send in their donations, small and large. They might have been an event attendee, or answered a prospective mailing/advertisement, or had a chance meeting with another supporter/volunteer/staff. New donors do not automatically become retained donors the year after; they need special attention when they make their very first gift, and also a special stewardship plan just for them. Here are some ideas:

  • Welcome Package: that consists of a welcome letter, tax receipt, brochure, latest newsletter, handwritten note from the ED or Board member followed by a personal phone call by the Development Director.
  • Top Donors: New donors who give at a higher level need more than a welcome package, maybe a couple of free tickets for a gala to sit at a Board member’s table, personal phone call from the Board leadership team, tour of the facility, and special stewardship plan through out the year.

Communication Strategy for New Donors: While new donors should get a welcome package upon immediately their first gift, they also need to be added to all other regular communications like newsletters and appeals; top donors will need special stewardship through out their first year to retain them for later years.

Lapsed Donors

This is an important segment, and definitely needs special attention. It would be wrong to lump them together with other kinds of donors, mass market to them, and not acknowledge their ‘short period’ of absence. It’s important to re-establish communication with lapsed donors as early as possible through a reacquisition mailing, letting them know that they have been missed! It’s also a great idea to set up a matching gift for this mailing, hence offering a chance to double their gifts.

Lapsed donors with a high giving history need more attention through personal letters, phone calls by senior staff or Board members, and if time permits, personal visits and focus group study. While they can continue to receive regular marketing communications (after the initial ‘we have missed you’ letter), top donors need to have a handwritten note to make it more personal. An important note for reacquisition is, always weighing the costs associated with reigniting old relationships; Costs associated with mailings, time and resources in acquiring new addresses/ contact details, staff hours etc. It’s a trade-off.

Communication Strategy for Lapsed Donors: Most definitely the reacquisition mailing as soon as they lapse, with special attention to top donors. Lapsed donors can continue to receive all other regular communications like newsletters and appeals.

Using some of these ideas to customize your communication strategy, you will be able to communicate effectively with different kinds of donors and thereby, build a strong donor base over time.

Somya Qureshi is the Marketing & Fundraising Ninja at She is passionate about helping nonprofits raise money and increase community awareness. Somya has over 12 years of experience in strategy, marketing, nonprofit management and engineering across America, Europe and Asia. Follow her on Twitter, @DoGooderNinja

Published On: December 10, 2014|Categories: Fundraising|