5 Communication Tips to Keep Your Donors Active & Engaged

Survey findings reveal the best ways to connect with nonprofit supporters

By eleventy marketing group

Nonprofit Donor Communication

72% of donors say poor content—whether too vague, irrelevant, dull, or inconvenient—affects whether or not they donate to a nonprofit.

That telling stat comes from the 2016 Donor Loyalty Study. We talked about this study in a recent post discussing donor behaviors, perceptions and values. But the study also has some interesting findings about how donors view the content they receive from nonprofits.

In many cases, the content nonprofit organizations send to donors, and how they send it, can have a bigger impact than you might think.

Here are a few key takeaways from the study on how your nonprofit can create and share content that compels donors to give—and keep giving.

How to Craft Content to Strengthen Donor Commitment

Based on survey findings from the 2016 Donor Loyalty Study, here are five ways you can optimize your content to keep donors interested, engaged and active:

1. Make it personal

The best way to connect donors with the content you share is to make it speak to their specific interests. A notable finding of the study is that many donors say they will stop giving if the content is…

  • “About programs I’m uninterested in” (25%)
  • “Has incorrect info about me” (24%)
  • “Not suited to my region” (14%)
  • “Not suited to my age” (12%)
  • “Isn’t personalized” (10%)

These are all related to knowing your donors. Today’s communication between consumers and organizations is all about personalization. If donors feel like you’re not listening to what you are telling them (through both words and actions), they won’t stick around.

For best results, make sure the content you send is tailored to the individual donor.

2. Find the right frequency

There is no magic bullet for finding the perfect amount of communication with all your donors. As you can see from the chart below, 52% of the surveyed donors said they like to receive content from nonprofits “monthly” or “quarterly”. Not far behind was 31% of donors saying they like communication from nonprofits “twice a month or more”.

Nonprofit Donor General Communication Preferences

Even within those categories there’s a wide range—the difference between 12 times a year versus four times a year is great. The study findings also reveal significant differences in the frequency of preferred communication among the different generations.

Nonprofit Donor Communication Preferences by Generation

Millennials and Generations Xers are more comfortable with more frequent communication, while Boomers and Matures tend to prefer a frequency of monthly or less.

While you can use age as a guide, the best way to determine the ideal communication frequency is to ask your donors directly and follow their preferred schedule.

3. Avoid these pitfalls

Along with personalizing your content to the interests and preferences of individual donors, you also want to make sure your content is easily accessible and digestible. And, most importantly, you want your content to be good.

These are the four things that turn donors off from content the quickest:

  • Too vague
  • Dull and boring
  • Inconvenient format
  • Irrelevant programs

Whether it’s an email, mail piece or social media post, make sure your content is easy for people to read and understand. Make it as specific as possible (“we helped a lot of people this month” just won’t cut it).

How Poor Content Can Negatively Impact Nonprofit Donors

Finally, make it interesting and exciting. Tell a story. Talk about the challenges you had to overcome. Give us a glimpse at the individual lives of the people you have helped. Make donors want to keep reading.

Ask yourself this: If your content was a movie, would you want to watch it?

4. Keep it short and sweet

In this age of content bombardment, people want content that is concise and simple. From there, if their interest is sparked in a topic, they may want to go deeper and seek out long-form content. But primarily that want what you have to tell them to be quick and easy.

Nonprofit Donor Preferred Content Types

This shows in the survey findings of The Donor Loyalty Study, which revealed the top four preferable content types of donors to be…

  • Short, self-contained email with no links (75%)
  • Short letter or online article (73%)
  • An email with links to other articles (65%)
  • Short YouTube video (60%)

All of these efforts are the quick-consumption side of the content spectrum. That being said, it’s also not a bad idea to have some longer, more in-depth articles and videos available online for those donors looking to dive deeper.

Nonprofit Donor Video and Written Content Length Preferences

You may be wondering, just how short is “short”. These charts from the study show how donors begin to lose patience the longer articles and videos get. The sweet spot is generally…

  • Video – Under 2 minutes
  • Written – 2-3 paragraphs

Remember, long and overwhelming content both won’t get read/watched AND has the potential to actively annoy and drive away donors.

5. Construct your content based on your goal

The kind of content you create and share should also be dependent on the goal you want to achieve. This is where strategy comes into play. Whether you want to inspire donors to take a specific action or communicate progress for general retention purposes makes a difference in what you share and how you share it.

The graphic below from the Donor Loyalty Study summarizes the content surveyed donors said would be most effective for achieving five different goals.

Nonprofit Content Communication Based on Goals for Donors

All content is not created equal in all situations. Always ask yourself: What’s the most effective way to get our donors from point A to point B?

Download your free copy of the Donor Loyalty Study from Abila here.

Also check out and share this infographic…

Abila Donor Loyalty Study Content Infographic