If you’re looking to keep your donors happy with how you treat them, you need to have your systems in order.
I mean, if you want to be sure you are sending your donors the updates they want to receive, and not messages that will annoy them, you need to keep track of a lot of information about both your donors and your communication with them. (And their responses to that).
Please note that some of the links I share below are affiliate links – if you join through my link I may get a small commission, a price reduction or other advantage – at no extra cost to you. In this article I share only links to products or services I know, like and trust for the purpose I recommend them for. This applies also to all my affiliate links.
An email service provider will be a big help in this. They make it possible for you to automate messages, so someone receives a message as soon as they donate, for instance. Even if you happen to be working in the field or sleeping! But you can also schedule messages to your donors. And – super important – you can check who opened the messages and who clicked on links in your messages for instance.
My recommendation for this is MailerLite (https://bit.ly/Mailerliteviasuzanne). This is relatively cheap (and free if you have fewer than 1,000 addresses in your list). I find the programme really user-friendly. And in case something puzzles you, there is a very helpful team to help you out. Plus – and this is a big plus for me – they are based in the European Union and fully compliant with GDPR.
I recently switched to MailerLite and I am super happy with them. So if you have simple questions, feel free to see if I can help by showing you my set-up for instance.
With an email service provider you are now ready to start sending messages.
So it’s time to start collecting stories, ideas and visuals. And to make a plan for how and when you’ll create your updates or newsletters.
I use Google Drive for this. I create Google Docs with my newsletter texts and I set up folders with my articles and visuals for my website and social media. I find it easy to use for my limited needs.
Recently I took some courses with Dara Sklar, who is a Google geek 😉
Through her I learned some new tips & tricks that helped me a lot (and saved me from frustrated screaming at my laptop). I bet she knows some things you would like to know, too. Check this free cheat sheet: Top 40 Time-Saving Google Hacks You’ll Wish You’d Been Using All Along (https://bit.ly/top40googlehacksviasuzanne).
If you would like to learn even more from Dara, like me, you can check out her course Get Productive with G Suite (https://bit.ly/getproductiveviasuzanne). She has office hours, too, so you can ask her anything if you get stuck. Or you can be like me and just quietly listen in and learn a lot that way.
If you are looking for help in creating nice-looking newsletters and visuals in Canva, take a look at The Template Tribe (https://bit.ly/thetemplatetribeviasuzanne) and the xoxo templates shop (https://xoxotemplates.shop/). I use both and am very happy with how easy it is to create things that look happy. And importantly: without spending hours and hours! If you are not using Canva yet, check out their nonprofit offer here: https://www.canva.com/canva-for-nonprofits/.
Feedback & Opinions
Now that your messages are going out, you may want to poll your donors to find out what they are most interested in.
You can use Google Forms, which is part of Google Drive and which you probably already know.
But if you are going to ask people to share their email address in the survey I would recommend using a tool like Typeform (https://bit.ly/typeformviasuzanne) as this is GDPR compliant. It is an easy tool and you can create nice-looking surveys, quizzes, evaluation forms and more in it. You can export the results to Excel and analyse them on your own laptop. If you are eager, like I sometimes am, you can set up email notifications in case someone responds. (Not recommended in case you expect a thousand responses in a short time!).
Keeping it safe
You now have a lot of data about your donors. Because you have their donation data and personal data and preferences. Luckily all this is in GDPR compliant software environments. But at some point you want to download data for back-up. Or perhaps you want to do some analysis and create a presentation for your board based on these data.
In that case, I recommend saving to your own Microsoft 365 / Sharepoint / OneDrive system, in a way that only those people who need to have access can have access to these files.
As I said, I do use Google Drive. But I use it only for things that are not sensitive and I do not upload files with personal data there. I use NextCloud and OneDrive for that.
My final recommendation is to make sure you keep all this safe with clever passwords that you change regularly. (https://www.changingtides.eu/3-tips-for-basic-security-measures-you-should-put-in-place-today/). This is easier to do if you use a password management tool. I have been using LastPass for years now and love it. It helps you save all your passwords and other sensitive information securely. You can easily access your passwords while browsing on your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. It is also very easy to share passwords, one by one or in a folder. You can even share your passwords so that the other person can get access to an account but cannot see (and copy) the password!
If you want to learn more tips & tricks about LastPass I highly recommend this mini course by Dara Sklar: LastPass Mastery (https://bit.ly/lastpassmasteryviasuzanne).
I know money can be tight
Some of the tools I recommend are free or have a free tier. But some, like Microsoft 365, are not free and it may be hard for you to invest in that.
If this is an issue for you, please check out TechSoup (https://www.techsoup.org/).
TechSoup supports nonprofits, charities, and libraries by providing access to and discounts on software, hardware, and services from major brands. With TechSoup help you can use paid software solutions at much reduced prices. For instance, Microsoft 365, Quickbooks Online for accounting, Docusign for online invoicing… And much, much more.
Please note that some of the links I share above are affiliate links – if you join through my link I may get a small commission, a price reduction or other advantage – at no extra cost to you. In this article I share only links to products or services I know, like and trust for the purpose I recommend them for. This applies also to all my affiliate links.
How I can help
If you’re not sure your systems are set up to manage that money in the best and easiest way, check out my workshop Donation Received – Now What?
In this workshop I walk you through all the things you need to set up, decide and do around the money coming in.
The second part of the workshop focuses on handling the personal data of your donors, coming in with their donations. What do you need to have in place to be compliant with privacy laws that might apply to you? (Even if you’re not aware of it!)?
All in all, it can be challenging to be on top of all these things – and that’s why I created this workshop for you! You can find out more here: https://bit.ly/donationwhatnow
I can also do a review of your SOPs for managing donations. Look here to find out more: https://bit.ly/reviewdonationsops
Want to know more and ask questions?
If you want to discuss this more – jump into my nonprofit support community and get input from a wide range of peers and from myself!
Here is how you can join my free nonprofit support community
You can join my free nonprofit support community on the Heartbeat platform here. This is a safe space for open exchange and discussion on potentially sensitive topics like boards, nonprofit management, fundraising, etc.
You can visit the community via a browser or via an app. Here is the link to download the Heartbeat chat app in the Google Play store.
Want to support me with a cup of coffee?
The seaside always inspires me and helps me think of articles, videos, workshops and courses I can create for you.
If you want to support me without getting a paid workshop, course or review – you can donate me a coffee and speed up my thinking process!
You can support me here: https://ko-fi.com/suzannebakker