Donors are saturated with communication from nonprofits—by mail, phone, email, and social media. With so many important issues and compelling cases, connecting with your donors in a meaningful way is critical. Healthcare institutions have a unique opportunity because donors—and prospects—are deeply embedded in the culture of the organization through the patient and family experience. Leveraging this connection can increase annual giving for both short-term success and long-term stability.
Understanding the way in which donors make philanthropic decisions will help shape the annual giving program’s communication. I am not talking only about the messaging; but also what the donor receives. Pay attention to the way each donor or prospect connects with your organization. Beyond customizing a communication for an individual recipient, personalization also entails mirroring the donor’s preferred method(s) of communication with your outreach, with a focus on their interests. For each segment of donors or prospects, ask yourself: What is uniquely important to them? How do they want to receive messages?
Annual giving communication connects the institution with a large volume of constituents; effective annual giving communication also requires unique connections with each constituent. This includes communication that informs the donor and communication that solicits a donation. A coordinated effort across all channels is essential to create a seamless message. Imagine you have a long-time supporter who is a close friend of a current board member. He makes his annual gift through the year-end solicitation without any personalization, but both your board member and donor research indicate that he has capacity. How do you inspire him to increase his giving? A personal invitation to a seminar, followed by a thank you call from his board member friend and a personalized year-end solicitation will have a positive impact on his annual commitment. Utilizing diverse communication channels will have the biggest impact.
Some simple strategies can go a long way:
- Customize outer envelopes either with bold messaging or unique sizing that can distinguish your package from other nonprofit communication. First impressions can be the difference between opening your mailing and tossing it.
- Highlight VIP treatment with recognition and giving societies—either through a membership card or interactive privileges—to upgrade giving. Some donors give for the status—recognition and giving societies entice these donors to give at their maximum capacity.
- Grateful patient mailings can build a sense of community. Grateful patient donors should continue to feel like a valued member of the community when they leave the hospital walls.
- High-end annual inserts like a “Year in Review” or “Recent Advances” will make donors feel like an “insider” at the annual giving level. Making donors feel like an elite member of your community encourages them to give at an elite level.
- Invitations to events and seminars through all communication channels, especially a personal phone call, build a deeper connection. Events and seminars are a good way to build rapport with donors and meet in person, especially when they have been resistant to the visit.
- Consistent updates in the form of e-newsletters, emails, and social media outlets including videos to keep donors informed and connected. Consistency ensures that your donors are always thinking of you—and their next gift isn’t too far away!
Remember that Persistent, Personal, and Timely Outreach is key. Sending monthly or quarterly solicitation letters is not enough in the digital age. Donors and prospects want to feel important and that their support matters. They are increasingly more intelligent about philanthropy and want a deeper connection with the organizations they support. Regular, thoughtful communication—not just solicitations—that speaks to what they support and when they support it can go a long way. Look for recommendations on these outreach strategies in the coming weeks!