How to Choose The Best Donor Communications Strategy for Your Organization: Part II

Person writing an address on an envelope

We’ve all seen that competition for donors is fierce. Nonprofit organizations need to create donor communications strategies that build strong relationships with their donors.

In part one, we revealed that the key to the best donor communications strategies is understanding who your donors are.

But what do we do with donor personas? Well, let’s get started.

What do you do after you create your donor personas?

Once you understand your donor personas, you can start identifying the strategies you’ll use to communicate with each.

Let’s get the biggest rule you should follow out of the way. Your strategies must be collaborative. Yes, we talk about collaboration a lot. That’s how much we value it! In donor communications, the development and the marketing and communications sides of your shop need to get together and figure out:

  • What the development team is already doing.
  • What the marketing and communications team or agency partners can bring to the table.

Think of your development and your marketing and communications teams as the wheels on a bicycle: they need to work together to take the same route to the same place. Even though they each have their own responsibilities, they’ve got to be in unison.

Plus, choosing to focus on specific strategies together helps make sure that you get your donors’ attention without overwhelming them — and you make the best use of your organization’s resources.

What strategies should you use?

  • Phone campaigns. There’s no denying that these are the reigning champs. Think of your donor personas to decide when you call, how you introduce yourself, how you ask for donations. But this invaluable strategy is also an investment. A big one. So, keep your donors interested and engaged with other strategies, like:
  • Text message campaigns. A two-way text message campaign, for example, could target younger donors. Your phone calls might not get through (but text messages do!).
  • Direct mail campaigns. If your organization gets a lot of donations from certain areas, direct mail campaigns to those regions could show new and existing donors how your mission impacts their own communities. Whenever possible, we embrace this kind of stuff.

The challenge, however, is being able to tell what works and what doesn’t. One of the things we think is great about working with an outside marketing and communications agency is this: organizations benefit from the outside partner’s expertise and data. Historical performance of different strategies, data on audience preferences, insight into current trends, the list goes on.

We spoke to our Marketing Strategist, Sonya Schweitzer, who emphasizes, “Most organizations don’t have the time or ability to do testing. We have a level of knowledge from history and successes that we can pull from.”

What should we tell our donors about?

It’s not just format. What your organization talks about matters, too.

“It’s really important that the marketing mix is a mix,” says our colleague Kim Chappell. “It’s not always asking for the donation. That you’re mixing in other things into the marketing. If every time they see on Facebook, or Twitter, or wherever, that you’re asking for a donation, they start to tune that out.”

Here are some ways to do this:

  • Use success stories. These show individuals and families helped by your organization’s work. They’re what donations make possible.
  • Highlight your events. Details like guest speakers or type of fundraising event can excite different types of donors. Whatever it is, use these kinds of details too!


You’ve got to invest in donor communications that attract new donors and keep your existing ones. These are hugely valuable in this competitive space. That’s what makes going the extra mile to understand your donor personas so worth it.

There’s value in having an outside marketing and communications agency supporting your organization, too. In our experience at JR Communications, we’ve seen how the organizations we partner with benefit from what we know, like where to connect with their audience, what formats to use, how to deliver their messages. We love that we can share these insights with our partners to help them get where they want to be.

Communication strategies that come from a place of understanding your donors, giving them the best experience and info — that’s how you stand out. That’s how you build those relationships with donors to keep them coming back. And never forget: it’s those donors that allow your organization to deliver on its mission.


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