In a previous article I focused on what is guiding you in the final quarter of 2021. In this article I want to zoom in a bit more on what you can do and plan regarding your donor base in this period of the year, on reaching out to your donor base in Q4.

Wrapping up 2021

Check your donor data

This is a good moment to check that you have a functional database of relevant donor data. It can be a simple excel, if it contains the information you need to properly reach out to your donors. So, check that you have something in place to collect data, that it collects the data you need and …. that the data are correct and complete!

Overview of your communications

If you have been sending emails or email newsletters to your donors this year, check that you have a copy of these. Maybe you are including yourself in the mailings and then storing the messages in a folder in your mailbox. That is great. You may want to print them as pdf and store them in one of your shared files, for easy access for everyone on the team.

And it might be even more practical to have a text version of them available. That way, people who write the mailings can search old texts and make sure to follow up on previous stories while not repeating the same ones too soon.

Plan your next communications

Now that you have reminded yourself of your messages to your donors this year, make a plan for messages you still want to send them. How many messages do you want to send them this year, before 31 December? What could be a good focus for the messages? Do you have a special event coming up you would like to tell them about? Is there a special day that you can use to reach out to them, like Human Rights Day on 10 December? Is Giving Tuesday something your donors are aware of and joining?

Thank you-notes

Make sure to at least plan one message to say Thank you to your donors of the past year. You can find more tips here.

Preparing for 2022

Analyze your donor base

Now that you have made sure your database is up to date, let’s have a closer look at it. What trends do you see in your donor database? Have you gained more donors in 2021? Do your donors donate more often? Or do they donate higher amounts each time they donate? Do you know how they feel about your work and about how you do it? What tips you can extract for yourself?

Set goals

It is important to set realistic goals for where you want to be by 1 December 2022 when it comes to your donors. Will you focus on keeping the ones you have, trying to increase their contributions? Or will you focus on increasing the number of donors? What is a realistic and ambitious goal for the total amount in donations you want to receive next year? Break this all down in donations in money and donations in kind, if that is applicable to you.

Your 2022 communication plan

Now that you have an overview of trends and have your goals, set some time aside to make a communication plan for your donor outreach in 2022. Will you start sending them newsletters? Or will you continue this if you are already doing that? How often will you send messages? What will be the focus of each message? When will you send the messages? Plan all send dates in your calendars. And start a shared document where involved team members can share ideas for the content, etc.

Major donors

If you have donors who are giving a lot, make an outreach plan specifically for them, too. That could include personal meetings, a tour of a project, a personalized video, or anything else that might suit them.

What a major donor is, is up to you to decide. In some nonprofits, USD 500 may be a major donor whereas in others major would be anything above USD 10,000. What you want to offer them, in terms of personal communication, must depend on what they would love receiving. So this is something that you need to carefully research or simply ask them!

My key tip

  • Make sure that your handling of donor information is compliant with any privacy regulations or laws that might apply. (For instance: don’t include people that are based in the European Union in a newsletter mailing list unless they have agreed to that expressly)

Want to know more and ask questions?

If you want to discuss this more – jump into the Facebook group and get input from a wide range of peers and from myself!

Here is how you can join my free Facebook group

You can join my free Facebook group how to become a professional and resilient nonprofit with Suzanne Bakker here. In this group we will create a safe space for open exchange and discussion on potentially sensitive topics like boards, nonprofit management, fundraising, etc.