Who is your audience?

Here’s a simple question:  Who should be the main focus of your annual campaign?  Who should you write your newsletters, monthly emails, or appeal letters?

A) Donors?

B) Volunteers?

C) Lapsed donors?

D) Prospects who have not yet given to your organization?

E) Prior event participants who have not made a second gift?

F) All of the above?

Let’s talk about your annual campaign.  The focus of your annual campaign is to raise funds.

Along the way, you’ll have some wonderful side effects:  You will raise a greater awareness about your cause, you spread the word to new prospects, and you reconnect with lapsed donors.  These are wonderful outcomes from an annual campaign, but your focus should always be to reach out to your current donorsThe answer is A.

Your mailing list is a mix of donors, volunteers, lapsed donors, prospects, and prior event participants.  The temptation is to use your newsletter, monthly emails, or appeal letters to talk to them all.  That’s a missed opportunity to better connect with your current donors with focused conversation.

A complete annual campaign does include a letter to lapsed donors, emails to volunteers, mailers and special events to draw in new donors.  Part of your annual campaign’s success is to segment your mailing lists and target these key groups separately during the year.

But the core of your annual campaign, your monthly or quarterly newsletters, monthly email updates, and appeal letters throughout the year should be directed specifically to your donors.  They are the ones who will most likely make another gift.

In order to raise more funds, talk to your donors first.

Use your newsletters and monthly emails to thank your donors, to love them back, and to tell them their financial support is making a difference.

I’ve talked to nonprofit leaders who’ve expressed some concern if their newsletters are too “donor focused,” because a non-donor may feel bad not having made a gift.  Our priority is to inspire donors to give, not to be cautious about how a non-donor may feel.  This is crucial in fundraising, we must always thank, inspire, and emotionally move donors to action.  In order to do this, we have to write to them directly and be intentional to inspiring them to action.  If there are any non-donor “casualties” as a result, that’s a very small price to pay.  But the opposite may happen, when you talk to non-donors like donors, they may respond like donors.

Everyone in your mailing list needs to receive special care and attention during the year.  Let’s win back lapsed donors.  Let’s gain new donors.  Let’s invite your volunteers to also give.  Let’s win a second gift from event participants.  But let’s keep the primary focus on current donors.  They are your priority.  If you want to raise more funds, talk to your donors as donors.  Don’t water down your message and weaken your annual campaign by trying to appeal to donors and non-donors with the same message.

The Nonprofit Excellence Group is a consulting and marketing agency for nonprofits.  Give us a call.  We’ll help you put better ideas at work to help you more deeply connect with your donors.