A Guide To Better Donor Communications


By: Ceci Dadisman

In: Development

I recently wrote a bit of a rant on Medium about the need to be more insightful in terms of how we communicate with our donors. This led me to think about the tactical side of that and how that would be implemented in a communications campaign.

We tend to start with a patron’s donor level in creating messaging for an appeal. Whilst the amount of a gift is important information, so is the level of engagement with your organization. Each target group will respond to different messaging and knowing what each one will find most interesting is incredibly important.

  1. Identify your most highly engaged donors, no matter their “level”.
    Classifying donors only by their donor level is a very one dimensional approach. There is so much more to each patron than just the amount that they have given. There is a big difference between a person who has been donating $50 every year for the past 30 years, and someone who donates $5k every 10 years or so when there is a big campaign going on.
  2. Create messaging that will be compelling to each segment.
    In short, talk to people like you know them. We know that longtime donor will be interested in a broad spectrum of messaging and you won’t have to “sell” as much to get that donation. Someone who is a lapsed donor who isn’t super engaged with your org may need a little reminder what their contribution supports.
  3. Don’t include an ask in every communication.
    We know from various studies that often communications that don’t contain an ask get the most donations. This is because they focus on specific programs or outcomes. Make sure you are sharing information frequently with your donors throughout the year and not just at appeal time.
  4. Use all of your communications channels.
    Each channel reiterates and reinforces your message so use all that you have at your disposal. It takes seeing your message multiple times on multiple channels before the average person will act so share compelling content on each one throughout the year. This will not only keep your patrons up-to-date on what is happening at your org, but it will also keep you top of mind. When it comes to sending out that ask, each segment will be primed to act.

As a first step, let’s all promise not to send one fundraising message to all (or almost all) of our donors. Let’s take a closer look and create communications that are at once insightful, authentic, and compelling.

Let’s get to work.

Ceci Dadisman
Ceci Dadisman
Ceci Dadisman is a marketing professional with more than 15 years of experience creating effective communications campaigns utilizing innovative, forward thinking methods. She is nationally recognized as a leader in digital marketing and specializes in multichannel communications campaigns. A frequent public speaker, Ceci’s recent and upcoming engagements feature national conference appearances at NTEN, Museums and the Web, National Arts Marketing Project, Arts Midwest, American Alliance of Museums, OPERA America, Midwest Museums Association, and Chorus America in addition to many other local and regional events. Known for her easy-going and vernacular style, she creates open learning environments with an emphasis on information sharing and useful takeaways. She is a member of the National Arts Marketing Project Advisory Committee and the West Virginia University College of Creative Arts Visiting Committee, and is a mentor in West Virginia University’s Creative Consultant program. She also teaches the arts marketing course at West Virginia University’s College of Creative Arts and is on the faculty of Chorus America’s Chorus Management Institute. Ceci was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from West Virginia University’s College of Creative Arts. She currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio.
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