4 Proven Tactics for a Successful 2021 Supporter Comms Strategy

June 30, 2021 Brian Isaac

While the 2021 financial year has just started, your donor’s connection to the cause is year-round.

For many nonprofits, this year will serve as a "rebuilding" phase - which may mean going back to the foundation of giving. And the foundation of giving today is that people give to people through by personalised communication, personal connections, and thoughtful stories.

This means if you consider all of your different types of supporters, manage your expectations, set the right goals, you'll build a framework that translates into more money for your organisation.

Here are the tactics, planning guidelines, and objectives to aim for in 2021.

How to communicate with all types of donors in 2021

All supporters: send a newsletter via mail
Send 6-10 issues per year
Aim for increases of 3-5%

If you do not produce a hard copy newsletter you distribute to your supporters via mail, now's the perfect time to try it out! If yours is already going, plan for increases of 3 to 5% – with 6 to 10 issues this year.  Your newsletter should include a “lead letter” that focuses on a need presented in the newsletter and makes a “soft ask” for support. And yes, your newsletter package should have a reply device and reply envelope.

All supporters: launch a direct response campaign across online and offline channels
Send 14-16 appeals per year
Aim for increases of 7-10%

Plan for increases of 7 to 10% – with 14 to 16 appeals a year.  This would be for all of your direct response channels, such as direct mail, telemarketing, and digital strategies using your website and social media. Of course, this is contingent upon your attrition rate and the amount you are spending on acquisition in these channels to offset attrition.  If you do not do enough new donor acquisition spending, only one thing is certain in direct response fundraising… attrition.

Middle Donors: encourage them to give more
Middle donor segments can range from $100-$5,000 gifts
Send 10-12 appeals per year
Aim for increases of 10-12%

Middle donors are donors who began giving to your organisation through direct response, but through systematic cultivation, volunteering and event participation have increased their giving past the $100 threshold.

Plan for increases of 10 to 12% – with 10 to 12 appeals a year. Middle donor definitions vary by industry but it can range anywhere from $100 to $5,000. Another note is that the communication needs to be different for your middle donors than your standard direct response donors. It should be consistent in the same style and tone from one month to the next. Always have a “high value” copy version for your middle donors and major donor prospects.

Major Donors: treat them like the VIPs they are
Major donors are those who made gifts above that of your middle donor segment

All communications to major donors need to be in a “1-to-1” format.  This means nothing which appears to be mass-produced (excluding the newsletter) should be distributed to them. Look to send real hand-addressed letters, box packages with appreciation gifts, and real photos – even framed. Yes, this is going to cost more per piece, but the ROI is huge. Treating your top 100 to 500 donors special is worth the investment.


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This post was adapted from It's That Time Again: New Year Goal Setting for Your 2012 Fundraising on sgEngage by Roy Jones and Tracy Cadigan.

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