Many nonprofits struggle with the idea of striking a balance between asking supporters for donations but not asking them “too often” — turning them off from giving entirely. The truth is: There’s no magic number for donation asks. Just as every nonprofit is different, the audience of supporters for each organization can react differently to the number, or type, of donation requests.
For any nonprofit, consistency of communication with your supporter base is key. Mailing direct mail fundraising letters to your donors twelve times a year (or once a month) is a good starting point. But you need to find other ways to communicate with you donors to avoid coming off as an organization that only contacts their supporters to ask for money.
Your supporters continue to give you money because they like what you do, and they want to hear more about your good work. A great way to communicate with your supporters and bond them to your cause is the donor newsletter.
Donor newsletters can be sent out monthly, quarterly, or even bi-annually. Unlike your monthly direct-ask fundraising appeals, the purpose of the newsletter is not primarily donations, rather it is donor retention and engagement. The newsletter informs supporters of all the work your nonprofit is doing and the successes achieved — thanks to supporters’ gifts! — and keeps the donor emotionally invested in the organization.
When informing supporters of your nonprofit’s success, be sure to craft the copy of the newsletter to reflect the donor as the real hero. Your organization’s staff may be directly on the ground having an impact, but you wouldn’t have that staff without the generosity of your supporters.
The struggles your nonprofit is facing in advancing its cause and upcoming campaigns your organization have planned should also be part of the donor newsletter. You can use these stories to set the stage for future direct-ask fundraising appeals.
In addition to sending a donor newsletter through the mail, your nonprofit should explore:
- Sending the newsletter via e-mail. We suggest sending the lead story through e-mail with a link and landing page to the entire newsletter.
- Posting the newsletter on Facebook. You can do this with an image of the entire newsletter or just the headline and picture.
- Linking to it through all your other social media channels — tweet about a story or the release of the newest newsletter, put a “Newsletter” tab on your website, make sure your blog readers know you have a new one out.
Again, these donor newsletters, or e-newsletters, need not have a direct ask, they are “soft asks.” But make sure your readers are given an easy way to respond to the newsletter with a gift should they be moved to donate.