Reassuring Donors in Turbulent Times

We all lose perspective. 

Donors particularly lose perspective about their vital role in supporting your mission when faced with seemingly more crucial causes. That’s especially true right now as they experience the horrors of war, political misinformation campaigns that fracture our society, and personal economic struggles like higher prices. 

In the midst of the AIDS pandemic, Peter Drucker once told me that it was his job “to lift the chin of [his] staff and volunteers to inspire them beyond the fear of dying to embrace their full potential to care for others and to provide real service.” 

So I will pay it forward and say to you: It’s your job to gently lift the chin of your donors and remind them of how essential they are to your equally important mission. And why your mission, too, is urgent 

It’s not so much that donors triage whom to make their gift to. It’s not that rational. It’s more that they give to the charities or causes that show up — those who consistently ask for support in an emotionally compelling way. 

Four Unique Ways to Show Up Right Now 

Now is a great time to get outside your comfort zone and try something different; not different just for the sake of being different, but to try a different medium that matches a more personal approach.  

To show you that I am practicing what I preach, join me for a new-style webinar about your well-being as a fundraiser. Register here to participate and to see a more personal style of webinar that you can emulate.   

In the meantime, consider one or more of these immediate actions to reassure your donors about your own nonprofit’s urgency amid turbulent times: 

Send a Text 

Text messages boast an open rate of 98%, but not all donors give after opening the message.

You probably want to restrict the use of texting to engagement and cultivation messages, expressions of gratitude, and/or breaking news. Send texts related to special days, such as a message of appreciation on the day before Thanksgiving.

If you’re asking for a gift, be sure to include a link to your website’s donate page so that you can secure the donor’s contact information and offer varied giving options. Learn more about texting here. 

Invite Donors to a Group Chat 

Your best donors should hear from you personally. A group chat can be a powerful way for you to convey updates about the pressing nature of your work.

A group chat is different than private 1-to-1 chatting because the conversations are open and visible to all invited donors.

This means you can reach more people at one time, donors can invite their family and friends to join the conversation, and they can share ideas and link with you in real time.

Many online platforms provide secure group chat features, from Zoom to Microsoft Teams. Even some donor database software programs have chat options. 

Promote Your Recurring Giving Society to the Right Segment of Donors 

A well-executed recurring giving program can generate consistent, ongoing revenue for your mission. Your organization can follow a similar path by creating data-driven, personalized campaigns for new and existing donors. Even better, if you set up your program properly, it requires minimal administrative work to keep it running smoothly. 

With recurring giving, you can also service, upgrade, and retain existing recurring donors across different marketing channels.  

If you rely on annual donors for a portion of your fundraising revenue each year, you likely have an opportunity to inspire a portion of those donors to make recurring gifts. To identify which donors are most worth approaching, focus on existing donors who give under $500 annually. 

Your recurring donors are most likely people who have donated several times before; have donated in the last year; or usually donate small amounts, rather than large amounts (which are likely to be one-offs).However, not every nonprofit is a good fit for recurring giving. Read here if you’d like to learn more. 

Send a Special Letter Expressing Empathy 

War, inflation, and civil discord may be outside your mission, but that does not mean you should bury your head in the sand about how these issues affect your donors.

You will want to show that you care about what donors are concerned about. Your email and postal letter should convey your empathy about the turbulent times we’re in and tie them to your mission where possible.

If there is no connection to make, simply speak to the stand-alone urgency of your mission in conjunction with the other challenges. Just don’t ignore the other challenges. If you do, you are likely to come across as out of touch.  

What’s going to be your fresh approach to these turbulent times? Let us know below, and please share this post with your colleagues.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Posts

Has Donor Trust in Charities Changed?

In this age of “fake news”, “alternative facts” “hyper partisanship” and what seems to be a general erosion of trust, why should we even care?  And if we care what can we fundraisers do about it?

Of course, every fundraiser should care because trust is the lynchpin of a solid and sustainable relationship with a donor.  And because there are ways to measure trust, taking steps to increase the level of trust, and by doing so increase donor value and an organization’s net revenue.

Read More »

MacKenzie Strikes Again

You probably won’t recognize most of the names on the list of the top 50 mega-philanthropists.

MacKenzie Scott’s name, though, immediately rings a bell and puts a smile on the face of those of us serving in the non-profit sector.

Ironically, she is not on that list, unlike her ex-husband.

Yet we love her for the special sensitivity she shows us, and her latest “strike,” an announcement to give away $250 million in funding to small nonprofits, is no exception.

Read More »

The CEO as Chief Fundraiser: A Role That Should Never Be Delegated

Our recent posts have lasered in on fundraising perennials–retention of fundraising staff, annual funds, and why donors give.  Another perennial stacks up as equally worthy of thoughtful commentary, and that’s the role of the chief executive officer in fundraising.  

A short definition of a CEO is he or she who makes decisions.  Nowadays, we recognize the value of consensus decision-making, and that’s fine.  But the kinds of decisions I’m referring to are the big ones, decisions such as those made by the captain of a ship.

Read More »