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Downes Murray International News

Do your donors want your fundraising to be more FUN?

Joe Garecht explains why it’s important to share upbeat and fun news with your supporter base.

As non-profits, we tackle some serious issues: disease, homelessness, education, and everything in between.

Because we want donors to believe in our mission and support our work, we spend a lot
of our time impressing the seriousness of that work on our donors. And rightly so. People need to understand the story behind your non-profit, and the impact of your work, if they are going to want to invest financially in your organisation.

It is important to remember that your donors are people. Like all people, they get tired of hearing a steady drumbeat of dire news and “emergency” pleas for help. If that’s all your non-profit is communicating to your donors, they will quickly stop responding to your fundraising appeals.

Of course you should be making your donors feel emotionally connected with your non-profit. Yes, you should be telling impactful, tear-jerking stories about your work. But you should also be tempering some of those serious messages with communications that are a little more “fun” and joyful.

Including some upbeat messages in your cultivation efforts will help your donors feel good about your work and ensure that they don’t get desensitized to your more serious communiqués. Here are three ways you can inject a little more fun into your donor dispatches without taking away from the seriousness of your work:

Big vision

The work your organisation does is important. You’ve got to let your donors and prospects know that you have a big vision for your programmes, and that there’s still a ton of work to do... work that you can only do if people donate to your non-profit.

But, it’s also important to regularly communicate with your donors about your “wins”. Your wins are also your donors’ wins. Did your organisation just meet a fundraising goal? Tell people about it. Did you open up a new wing of your hospital, or feed 10% more people at your soup kitchen last month? Let your donors know.

Take a few moments every now and then in your newsletters, e-mails, on your website and at your events to celebrate with your donors about the great work they have made possible at your organisation.

Does your non-profit spend all of its time telling the stories of your clients? Telling client stories is important . . . you want to make sure your donors and supporters understand the impact of your work on the lives of real people in their own communities.

But, it is also important to spend some time telling the stories of your donors, staff and volunteers. Telling those stories builds a sense of belonging for your supporters, breaks up the monotony of only hearing similar stories about your client base.

Many non-profits feature a donor, board member or staff member in each newsletter, talking about their background, why they got involved with the organisation, and fun facts about their hobbies and interests.

Another great way to inject fun into your fundraising, without lessening the impact of your donor communications or taking away from your mission, is to provide opportunities for networking and community-building for your donors.

These opportunities can be as simple as holding non-ask cultivation events once per month or once per quarter, inviting donors
to come and mingle with other donors and staff... or they can be as involved as holding a yearly “celebration dinner” for your donors that features a well-known speaker or guest host. Many larger organisations invite donors to participate in private social media events, chats or conversations, only loosely based on the non-profit’s mission area.

Whatever you choose to do, providing opportunities for your donors and prospects to network and enjoy each other’s company can provide a strong sense of belonging and "family" for donors, which in turn increases donor loyalty and happiness.

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