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How to talk to donors: Messaging and Technology

Cultivating and maintaining donor relationships is one of the most critical functions for a political campaign, advocacy group, or nonprofit. Think of donors as your investors. Yes, they’re not expecting financial returns; however, they do expect your organization to be thoughtful stewards of their money.

Asking for money

Digital marketing campaigns and outreach strategies should be built around asking donors for money. The best rule of thumb when soliciting donations is to get your candidate or message at the center of the content. In the case of the first time politician or the do-it-yourself nonprofit evangelist, donors need to solicit funds via various mediums. Whether its events or calls to individuals, you need to coach your candidate or fundraising staff to be prepared for the ask and train them on how the ask should be different depending on the platform.

The mediums

There are four primary mediums to ask donors for money, and the overlap of fundraising channels between nonprofits (i.e., think tanks, foundations, etc.) and political organizations (campaigns, issue initiatives, etc.) are similar.

  • In-person: Asking for money in-person, though the most daunting of avenues, is still one of the most effective means to fundraise. Interpersonal interaction and establishing an element of demonstrable trust can secure more significant funding amounts than traditional “proxy” mediums. According to The Fundraising Authority, developing relationships, making a donor or potential donor comfortable is required. You need to make the donor understand why your initiative is so important and inform them of why they need to join your organization.
  • Phone calls: Calling a potential or repeat donor on the phone is another avenue to demonstrate the “personal” touch of an organization. For example, donors for political organizations are more likely to answer fundraising calls if a candidate or popular public figure is making the calls. Also, calling donors is best done in the early evening. Most fundraising platforms, like RevUp and the lesser known Datrm.in, also have integrated calling features that correspond with information for donor asks.
  • Direct mail: Formal and written letters sent as a part of a fundraising strategy are always time-tested classics, especially for personal messages. You may create a sense of importance among donors if you send mail pieces and personalized return envelopes in the same letter. It’s important to keep in mind that organizations need to analyze the real numbers behind a direct mail campaign. Measuring response rate doesn’t provide an adequate analysis of the effectivity of a mail campaign. You need to ask, “how effective is our fundraising budget being spent on direct mail versus other mediums?” The answer to this question covers everything from donor acquisition costs, retention rates, average donation amounts, and the lifetime of a donor, according to Fundraising Report Card. The U.S. Postal Service revealed that 67% of Americans considered physical mail as more personal than the internet.
  • Email marketing: One of the most common methods for reaching donors is through email marketing. Through targeted and pre-programmed email campaigns, fundraisers can capitalize on furthering their message on various fronts. Unlike direct mail, email marketing allows you to deeply analyze the effectiveness of content via dashboards and analytics in the email marketing software and using 3rd party tools like Litmus. Utilizing messaging that incentivizes donor conversion will parlay into funding. Such copy often reads like this: “If you donate now, you will join our donor advisory committee and receive direct access to our organizational leaders.”

Also, calling donors, tracking transactions, and running email campaigns requires technical management. Luckily, there are scores of software available to assist in email marketing, outreach, payment processing, and other operational aspects.

Telegraph has reviewed many donor relationship management software, marketing tools, and payment platforms.

Here are a few of our favorites…




Read more here.

Other Resources

  1. “7 Tips on Asking for Donations — It’s Intimidating, We Get It” – Nonprofit Hub
  2. “How to Ask Someone to Make a Donation to Your Political Campaign” – Local Victory

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