Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 43 seconds

The Changing Landscape of Donor Communication

one sizeOne size does not fit all, and nowhere is that more apparent then in the nonprofit world. Yes, your donors have something in common; belief in your mission, but that may be all that they have in common.

Too often, nonprofits believe that this one commonality means that they can treat all their donors the same, especially when communicating with them.

It is time to ditch the one size fits all method. Every donor is different, so you can’t expect to reach you donors using only one method of communication. You also can’t go on thinking that because you’ve always communicated via one method that no other method will work.

Take text messaging, according to research conducted by Edge Research for Abila, 55 percent of millennial donors (those ages 18 to 34) say that occasionally receiving a text message from a nonprofit is acceptable.

In contrast, only 42 percent of Generation X donors (those ages 35 to 50) and a mere 24 percent of baby boomers want to receive texts from their favorite nonprofit organizations. This means that even though they have donated, perhaps even via a text to give campaign they don’t want to receive texts from the organization.

Sadly, many nonprofits don’t obey their donor’s wishes. Despite the numbers clearly showing that nonprofits should tailor their communication to their donor’s preference, only 34 percent of nonprofits report doing so.

At first, it may seem impossible to communicate with your entire database in the method they prefer, but really, it is simple. How? By segmenting your database with segmentation, you group your donors based on what you know about them, which in this instance is their preferred communication method.

This type of segmentation can be done with any good database. You can segment donors based on any number of criteria, including preferred communication method, but where would you learn their preferred communication method? Most find it easy to gather that information from a survey or on the sign up page.

No matter which communication method your donor prefers you must always convey your message and leave the donor understanding why they should donate now.

Research has shown that donors give because they believe in the mission and the organization. They also give to feel involved and valued, but that they won’t give from a sense of guilt or obligation and they will definitely not give just because they received a communication from your organization.

While they methods have changed, the reason for communication has not. The top three reasons why organizations communicate with their donor base are to engage, retain and acquire donors. Yet, almost 40 percent of organizations report feeling they lack the time to create quality, engaging content.

One the king of communication traditional print marketing has fallen to a mere 11 percent. Now 32 percent of communication comes from an organization’s website In addition, 15 percent is in the form of email marketing and 11 percent from social media.

Even that is evolving with the switch to mobile devices versus desktop devices. Now, websites and email must be optimized for mobile use. In an increasingly mobile reliant atmosphere, having an email or website that doesn’t look good on a mobile device almost certainly guarantees that the potential donor won’t become a confirmed donor.

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