Increase Donor Loyalty With Our Best Practices

One of the advantages that nonprofit organizations have is that often donors are looking for authentic personal connections with the nonprofit. Donors want to feel connected, like they are a part of something bigger, and feel like they belong.

As a nonprofit, one of the best ways to increase donor loyalty is by showing up. These days virtually can be almost as effective as in person. Donor loyalty is driven by human connection, which means personalizing your communications with them will ensure that your donors reach out to you again in the future.

This article will discuss how to increase donor loyalty by utilizing these 8 tools.

Challenges With Donor Loyalty Today

Put yourself in the shoes of your donors. You have finally selected a nonprofit organization whose mission and values align closely with your own. To begin, you choose to donate $100 to them. While your contribution may not be a massive donation, it’s still a significant contribution to the cause.

A week goes by following your donation, and you’ve received no response from the organization. Another week goes by, and still, there has been no response. You’re disappointed in the organization at first, but eventually, you simply forget about the whole thing.

While you may have forgotten about the whole ordeal, the critical thing to remember is that you will never give again.

Don’t let your nonprofit organization follow this path. Here are the top 8 ways to increase donor loyalty with our best practices!

Top 8 Ways to Increase Donor Loyalty

Even though nonprofits have notoriously stringent budgets, you’ll be happy to know that it doesn’t take much money to increase donor loyalty. Here are the top 8 ways to increase donor loyalty with our practices.

1. Connect With Your Donors Regularly
As previously mentioned, the primary method to increase donor loyalty is by staying connected. By regularly engaging with your donors, you are helping to build upon the emotional connection between them and your organization.

Some of the ways you can stay on top of your connections include:

Building a website
Updating your website weekly
Sending out newsletters
Provide video content
Post engaging content on social media

You should take the time to research your donor demographic’s preferred method of communication and hone in on developing those areas of your marketing efforts. And remember, don’t just post boring things. Find ways to engage directly with donors and personalize your efforts as much as possible.

2. Donor-Stewardship
Donor-stewardship is the process of building a relationship with your donors after they make a gift. The main aim of stewarding your donors is to encourage them to donate again. Creating a relationship with your donors will make them feel loyal and increase future fundraising.

Keep in mind the donor pyramid and varying levels of engagement within it. The different levels within the donor pyramid include:

-Occasional donors, volunteers, and event participants
-Annual and recurring donors
-Major gift donors
-Planned gift donors

3. Offer Opportunities for Your Donors to Get More Involved
Remember that your donors can contribute to your efforts more than simply donating money. Always have opportunities for your donors to get more involved with your organization, even if they don’t have the funds to donate at this time.

Here are a few different ways you can get your donors more involved with your organization:

  1. Set up a donor advisory board
  2. Ask donors to like and share social media posts
  3. Host new donor onboarding sessions
  4. Organize informal focus groups
  5. Send out surveys to donors
  6. Create a group chat on social media

4. Thank Donors in a Personal Way
It doesn’t matter what the size of the donation is. Any contributions your donor makes towards your cause should always be thanked. Believe it or not, thank-you mail can make or break a relationship with a donor.

While it can be challenging at times, writing thank-you notes to donors is a great way to show them that you appreciate them. Luckily, with the help of services like Postalgia, you can get the job done quickly and easily.

Postalgia will pen your individualized donor thank you notes on your letterhead with high-quality card stock, taking care of all details, including the address verification, postage, and mailing.

Many of us have grown accustomed to receiving countless messages by email, social media, and text every day that these days, a handwritten note is rare. Therefore, sending a handwritten thank-you card or letter makes your organization stand out and instantly creates a unique and personal connection with the recipient.

Penned by robots but remarkably human, our handwritten letters, notes, or cards to your stakeholders are written using genuine ink. We’ll print and mail these personalized handwritten donor thank-you notes for you for the ultimate convenience.

5. Develop Trust
Another surefire way to increase donor loyalty is by developing trust. To help promote confidence in and amongst your organization, consider interacting with donors face-to-face. There are plenty of different ways to help build trust in your organization. Some ideas might include:

-Hosting an in-person event for supporters
-Hosting a virtual event
-Invite donors to tour your offices
-Ask donors to join your team for a hike

6. Get as Personal as Possible
The perfect world for the nonprofit organization allows you to have a one-on-one relationship with every donor. Unfortunately, that’s not the most realistic expectation for most nonprofits.

Still, you can personalize your content as much as possible by tracking and measuring all of your interactions with donors. Some critical information you should constantly be tracking includes:

-Motivating factors
-Donor demographics or segments
-Preferred communication channels
-How new donors are driven to your organization

7. Remember It’s About Relationships, Not Donations
Instead of focusing your efforts on more donations, change your mindset to instead increase donor loyalty. Rather than funds being the ultimate end goal, you want to view your relationship with donors as an opportunity to make a more significant impact in the long run.

The more you have a two-way relationship with your donors, the more invested they will be in the growth and success of your organization.

8. Create a Donor Loyalty Program
Although you want to thank all contributions to your cause consciously, significant donors need to be thanked with a bit of extra care. Create a donor loyalty program to help maintain the momentum of your top supporters. Ideas for programs might include:

-Branded gifts
-Networking opportunities
-Special tickets to events
-Member-only events
-Exclusive member-only newsletters

Conclusion
The best ways to increase donor loyalty are linked to personalizing the experience. Getting to know your donors, what they like, and what you can do to maintain your relationship with them are critical components of the donor-stewardship.

After all, it’s about PEOPLE. There’s more to building donor loyalty than the basics, of course, but if you start doing these 8 things, you’ll be off to a good start.

Postalgia can help you deliver that personalized touch by creating physical media such as newsletters and fundraising campaigns and also produce beautifully handwritten personalized thank you letters to donors at scale.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Finding Your Next Major Donor is as Easy as 1,2,3…4,5,6

Whether you’re running a venture-backed Startup company, a Fortune 500 telecom giant, or a mission-driven non-profit organization, you need more resources – usually cash – to build your team, grow your reach, and scale whatever it is that your organization does best.

In the context of charities, foundations, and philanthropic organizations, if you were to ask anyone who works in a fundraising capacity what their top goals are for the month, the quarter, or the year, they might answer that they are working on stewardship, donor engagement, transitioning one-time donors to monthly donation programs, or acquiring new donors, but it all boils down to one thing: Money coming in.

That boils down to a few different elements of your broader fundraising strategy:

Acquisition – How are you acquiring new donors who have never given before?
Solicitation – What is your approach to raising money from current donors?
Monthly Giving – Are you turning your one-time donors into monthly donors?
Reactivation – How are you reactivating lapsed donors?
Legacy Giving – Do you have a program that allows your donors to make an impact after they’ve passed on?
Major Giving – Can you move donors into higher and higher giving brackets?
Stewardship – How do you keep donors connected so that they stay donors?

Many fundraisers correctly focus heavily on soliciting existing donors – after all, the most likely source of new charitable dollars is past givers who are already connected to and inspired by the mission of your organization.

But donor churn – your donors deciding to stop giving to your organization – is an inevitability, not a hypothetical. Excellent organizations may experience lower levels of donor churn than the industry standard, but with The Association of Fundraising Professionals Fundraising Effectiveness Project pegging 2020 retention rates at 43.6%, that means that you can expect to keep fewer than half of your donors year over year if you run a typical fundraising operation.

Of course, the longer a donor is with your organization, the less likely they are to stop giving (hence the importance of monthly giving programs and stewardship), and a big chunk of the almost 57% of donors that didn’t come back in 2020 were first-time donors themselves (more than 80% of first time donors made one gift and never returned).

But that doesn’t change the fact that you need to replace the donors that you’re losing every year with fresh, new additions to your donor base.

So, without further ado, here are 6 tips to growing your new donor base:

1. Survey your current donors

Before you embark on an involved, time-consuming, and/or expensive process of attracting new donors through what you assume is the way to do so, it is worth asking your existing donors a few simple questions:

How did you hear about our charity, non-profit org, or foundation?
How long after did you donate?
Did you have any involvement with the organization before donating?
Why did you decide to donate to our organization?
Were you asked? If so, by whom? How? Through what channel?
What was the process like when you gave your first gift?

If you have candid conversations with some of your best donors, at different giving levels, ages, and years of involvement, you’ll find strong patterns start to emerge.

If your charitable organization is like most, you’ll find that many of your donors have a personal connection to your organization, had involvement with the organization before giving, give for similar reasons, and were asked to give in similar ways.

This crucial first step will give you a good idea of where to look for new donors, and help you in the next step as well…

2. Create a donor profile for digital advertising

Once the patterns in your donor stories have begun to emerge, you should be able to create a donor profile.

A donor profile could include demographic, geographic, ethnic, religious, professional and income information, all of which can be used to target acquisition campaigns.

For example, if you are fundraising for a children’s hospital in the downtown area of a major metropolitan city, you may discover from your donors that they are mostly suburban parents of 2 or more children, working as professionals (dentists, lawyers, accountants, etc…).

3. Create issues or opportunities-based campaigns

One of the most important things that you will learn from talking to your existing donors is what moved them to donate in the first place.

Deciding to give money is a big step for many people. Chances are that for every donor you have, you have thousands if not tens of thousands of people who support your mission in non-financial ways, even if just quietly and privately in their own minds.

You’re probably asking yourself what good that does you – a non-profit organization with mouths to feed and a mission to undertake.

But today’s donors are yesterday’s activists who were the day before’s volunteers who were themselves quiet supporters the day before that. As the proverb goes, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

In this case, it’s very difficult to fundraise from anonymous supporters that you don’t know exist, but approaching strangers and asking them for money is likely to get more doors closed in your face than not.

Asking for small expressions of support, however – like “sign this petition” or “click to email your congressman” are not big asks. What they do, however, is help you build a list of people who are supporters of your cause, and may one day financially contribute to your philanthropic endeavors. You now have the names, email addresses, and possibly addresses and phone numbers of people who support your organization enough to put up their hands and self-identify. That list is worth its proverbial weight in gold.

4. Turn stakeholders into activists

Speaking of building lists, chances are that many of your donors had interactions with your organization as non-donors before they ever cut a check.

If you’re fundraising for a school, certainly your alumni are a great place to start; but what about their parents and grandparents? If you’re a hospital foundation, studies show that over 80% of grateful patients feel good about donating to the hospital at which they received treatment, to say nothing of their relieved and grateful families.

The people that you helped are not the only stakeholders in your community.

Congregants, community members, teachers, and volunteers of all types often go on to become amongst the most prolific and involved donors in any charitable organization.

5. Create volunteer opportunities, community events, and open houses.

That’s why creating volunteer opportunities is one of the most powerful long-term acquisition strategies that you can pursue. Nothing binds a supporter to a nonprofit organization’s mission like giving their time and energy to the cause.

Ironically, giving in this way makes donors and supporters more invested than receiving does.

Bringing people together through volunteerism, showing off the good work that your organization does, and creating community through causes that people are passionate about takes a lot of work, but the result is that you will attract people who are much more mission-driven, much less transactional, and much less likely to leave after giving once.

These mission-driven people will make up the beating heart of your donor base. They are exactly who you want to make up the core of your organization, and you’ll wish that you could clone them.

6. Have your current donors bring a friend

The next best thing, however, is to have them bring like-minded friends, family members, and colleagues along for the ride.

A lot of fundraisers are afraid to ask their donors for anything other than money; their mentality is that if the donors have already given to the organization, the last thing that you want to do is impose on them in a way that risks alienating them by making them feel put upon.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Your donors are along for the ride for a reason. They are the most passionate believers in the work that you are doing, and nothing makes them feel better than having more opportunities to help in ways that don’t make them feel like they are only viewed by you as a source of more and more money.

Giving them opportunities to bring in friends – especially to community-building events – would be welcomed by your donors as a new and unique way to contribute.

And just like that, your fundraising list just got bigger.

Putting it all together

Suppose you’re fundraising for a  hospital foundation. You speak to your current donors and see patterns start to emerge. You learn that most of your donors are parents with young children, living in one of the suburbs of your city, working as young professionals. You find out that they donated because they’re passionate about combating childhood cancer, something in which your hospital excels. You learn that many of them were asked to donate after being solicited by an existing patient – a loved one, friend, or colleague. Now you have a donor profile.

You use that information to create a targeted digital campaign. The message: a former patient asks parents to please sign a petition calling on the state government to invest more in combating and treating cancers that affect children. For every signature, a major donor will donate a dollar to your hospital foundation.

You collect supporters through that campaign, and add them to your existing lists of stakeholders (which you may have at the ready, or may need to build). In addition to fundraising off of this large, curated list in future direct mail and digital campaigns, you also advertise volunteer opportunities: “Come volunteer with kids in the cancer ward.“

New faces turn up to your volunteer opportunities. You send out a direct mail piece to all existing donors, inviting them to come to a community event to raise money for a state of the art pediatric cancer treatment center, and to bring a friend, because every dollar given by a new donor will be matched by a major gifts donor.

Somewhere on your list, whether it’s one of the petition-signers who now receives your community newsletter, a new volunteer who is moved by the hopeful faces of smiling children, or someone whose colleague brought them to a fundraising gala for the first time to have their first donation matched, is your next million-dollar lifetime donor, just waiting to shake your hand and to thank you for giving them the opportunity to change lives and make a difference.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Top 6 Non Profit Marketing Ideas

It is crucial for marketing and communications professionals to have a marketing plan, even if the budget is low. Marketing plans set goals, develop tools for communication, define the mission, and generate an effective strategy for approaching and engaging donors.

Nonprofits often have limited marketing funds, but no matter the budget size, good and strategic marketing is the most effective way to increase awareness and raise funds.

Challenges with Nonprofit Marketing Ideas Today

The biggest hurdle for nonprofit marketing ideas today is that most believe that a large budget is necessary to be effective. While having a marketing budget is important, much can be done with a small budget.

Here are the top 6 nonprofit marketing ideas that will help boost your marketing footprint today!

Top 6 Nonprofit Marketing Ideas

A giant marketing budget is not necessary in order to be effective. For nonprofits, this concept is especially true. Here are the top 6 nonprofit marketing ideas.

 

1. Build a Website and Update it Weeklyunnamed (13)

Your website is your first impression to donors, volunteers, employees, and supporters. It provides information about your cause and purpose, as well as statistics and stories.

Maintaining a weekly blog on your website will help keep your audience engaged with your nonprofit’s news and success stories. Fresh weekly content also increases your relevance to search engines and brings in new visitors which is the best low cost way to increase awareness and find new donors.

2. Send Out Newsletters

Donors always like to know what’s new in your nonprofit. Thankfully, you can share nice and exciting content, your monthly successes, numbers, etc., by sending out newsletters. A very convenient way to create a newsletter is to draw much of the content from your weekly blog content.

This can be done via email, or for increased engagement, Postalgia can print and mail your newsletters directly to your donors.

 

3.  Engage Your Audience with Video Content

Videos are visually stimulating and dynamic. They can boost your audience engagement because they can be educational, emotional, and easy to share. As a nonprofit, you can make testimonial videos. Building trust is the key to donations.

Content marketing is all about building trust and long-term relationships. Provide people with exciting and valuable information instead of selling to them.

Additionally, Google loves videos. Videos boost the time spent by site visitors. The longer the site has been online, the greater the trust it gains from search engines and the more relevant it appears to search engines. Video-embedded websites are 53 times more likely to appear first in Google searches.

 

A cool app to make easy videos is Vidyard.

 

4. Have a Social Media Marketing Budget

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Promoting posts on social media is an often overlooked yet effective way to increase your views without breaking the bank. No matter the size of your organization, it can be helpful to designate a specific amount to promote your cause on social media. Your presence on the Internet will be established, and you will reach a broader audience. You can acquire 1,000 views for under $10 on most social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube). When a  post gains a bit more traction with an account’s followers it is a good sign that it will be worthwhile to boost views with a small post promotion.

 

5. Post Engaging Content on Social Media

 

Your organization can use all its social media channels to raise awareness for upcoming events and raise funds for your cause. Increase social media shares by posting visual content such as video, images and breaking news. Posts visual representations of data tend to be more virally shared than text alone. You can also create contests or polls that allow your followers to vote.

A regular schedule of events gives supporters something to look forward to consistently, so their involvement remains high. In addition to bringing new people into your organization, events are also opportunities to introduce them to your cause.

 

6. Thank Your Donors in a Creative and Original Way

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Thank-you mail can make or break a relationship with a donor? Writing thank-you notes to donors is a great way to show them that you appreciate them, but it can be challenging.

By using some sample thank-you donation letters or a service like Postalgia, you can get the job done quickly and easily. We will pen your individualized donor thank you notes on your letterhead with high quality card stock. We take care of the address verification, postage, and mailing.

Show sincere appreciation and leave a good impression next time by saying thank you to donors, volunteers, and suppliers with a thoughtful, handwritten message. Penned by robots but remarkably human, our handwritten letters, notes, or cards to your stakeholders are written using genuine ink. We’ll print and mail these personalized handwritten donor thank-you notes for you for ultimate convenience.

What’s more original than a handwritten letter? These days, a handwritten note is rare because many of us have grown accustomed to receiving countless messages by email, social media, and text every day. A handwritten thank-you card or letter not only stands out but also instantly creates a unique and personal connection with the recipient.

Show your appreciation with handwritten donor thank-you notes.

 

Conclusion

The best nonprofit marketing ideas boil down to having a plan in place regardless of the budget size. Getting to know your donors, what they like, and what they would like to see is key to growing your marketing reach.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

The Benefit of Thanking Your Customers

Gratitude. It’s such a simple word to say. In reality, it has so much meaning. And it means different things to different people. It can even anchor your business strategy. One thing about gratitude, though, is that it takes practice. The more you practice offering thanks to those you interact with, the happier and better satisfied you (and the recipient) become. That’s good for your business – and you.

Showing gratitude to others is one way you can make them feel appreciated, which is something that offers surprising rewards if you’re willing to initiate. In fact, the art of thanking others can be what sets you apart and builds loyalty among customers, donors, and employees alike. Here’s what you need to know about thanking others, the psychology behind it, and how to maximize its value for your business.

How You Benefit From Gratitude

Gratitude isn’t just about your customers, it can offer big benefits for you. Thanking someone is a small thing that breeds enormous results. The more frequently you practice thanking others, the more thankful you feel about your own life, at least according to Harvard Medical School.

As you take on a grateful mindset, you’ll begin feeling thankful for more and more things. If you have trouble verbalizing gratitude, you might begin by creating a gratitude journal or writing thank-you cards to people in your circle. The more you practice these actions, the easier it will be to offer your thanks to your customers and tell people around you that you are thankful for them.

In business, this isn’t only for customer appreciation. You can show appreciation for employees or even individuals (even vendors) who have given their money, time, and talent to support your business.

Psychology Of A Thank You

Thanking your customers will make a huge difference to your bottom line if you leverage the power of expressing gratitude. in addition to the personal benefits that practicing gratitude and thanking others offer, you’ll enjoy the benefit of more loyal customers.

Why? One big factor is that offering and receiving thanks is actually less common than you’d think. According to a recent study published in Psychological Science, most people underestimate the value of saying thank you – so they don’t do it.

Researchers discovered that when people thank someone, they underestimate the positive sentiments that their statement of appreciation elicits. That might explain why some individuals don’t express their gratitude more frequently.

In several experiments, participants picked someone who positively influenced them and anticipated how the recipient would react to receiving a letter of thanks. The researchers sent letters to the recipients of the thank-you letter and asked them to evaluate the individual thanking them.

According to the survey results, those expressing gratitude significantly underestimated how positively the recipient would rate them. They notably underestimated the competency rating, indicating that looking silly or inept might be a significant barrier to expressing thanks.

What Does Cultivating Gratitude Mean for Businesses?

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” – Aesop.

When you thank your customers, employees, and others you come in contact with, it makes them FEEL good. If you do it consistently, those good feelings become something they associate with you and your business. They will seek out those experiences over interactions with other people because of how your company makes them feel.

In other words, it creates loyalty.

People will often turn down higher-paying jobs if they feel appreciated and valued in their current jobs. The same holds for customers. They will drive out of their way and across town to do business with a shop or store that makes them feel appreciated rather than going to one nearby that does not.

Even with e-commerce businesses, customers will return time and again to websites that make them feel appreciated rather than going to those that make them feel like a nameless, faceless number instead of a valued customer. The way you make people feel matters. Thanking them is a crucial method for making them feel valued and appreciated by you and your business.

Practicing Gratitude in Business

When you make people associated with your business feel appreciated, they will be much more loyal to your business than those who do not. This means expressing gratitude is an incredible way to build loyalty for your business.

Here are a few ideas on how to make your customers feel appreciated:

  • Add bonus items or small extras to packages when delivering items.
  • Offer free products or samples to customers.
  • Start a loyalty program that provides discounted or free items with repeat purchases.
  • Provide discounts on future purchases.
  • Offer employee appreciation benefits.
  • Spotlight customers, employees, etc. in weekly newsletters or social posts.

Another easy way to express gratitude is with a handwritten thank-you card. It may seem like a simple gesture, but it makes an impression on your audience. In fact, a handwritten thank-you note carries far more weight than you may realize because:

  • People don’t deliberately say thanks all that often.
  • A handwritten thank-you card is more likely to stand out in the mail.
  • Handwritten cards are more likely to be read and remembered.
  • The fact that someone wrote the information makes gratitude appear more authentic.
  • It’s an easy method to show customer appreciation. And we can make it even easier for you.

Because you practice gratitude, show appreciation, and give thanks, you continue to enjoy the mental health and physical benefits that being grateful provides. Plus, you enjoy the benefits of loyalty from your customers and employees. It’s a real win for businesses and individuals from all walks of life.

Of course, you can thank your customers and employees in many ways. But the most important thing is to actually thank them. More importantly, show them you are grateful for their business and be thankful for things each day as they happen. Do this consistently enough, and over time you will enjoy greater customer loyalty as your business grows.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

How writing letters can fight pandemic depression

Life-giving responses to COVID-19 can include:

    1. Physical distancing;
    1. Mask-wearing in public spaces;
    1. Handwritten letters; or,
    1. All of the above.

The answer is four. Yes, actually. Handwriting letters to loved ones can make a big impact in the era of COVID-19—especially in addressing the health crisis offshoot of the virus, the depressing effect of social isolation. We all know it first hand after too many draining Zoom calls: the threat of loneliness is very real. One study published in the academic journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences put it bluntly: “Loneliness kills people.”

“Social isolation, or a lack of social opportunity, gives rise to a sense of loneliness,” say the McGill and Oxford researchers in the study. “Directly or indirectly, this feeling has many wide-ranging consequences for our psychological well-being as well as our physical health, even our longevity.”

We have more ways to connect with others than ever before—even in a public health crisis that demands physical distancing even from our closest family. But many of these methods of “connection” don’t provide the jolt of warmth and community that comes from face-to-face social contact. Texting, WhatsApp messaging, video and phone calls—they just don’t feel the same.

It’s not only you who feels that way.

Two academic experts on the topic—one a professor of organizational behaviour and the other a psychologist—have written that “meeting online increases our cognitive load, because several of its features take up a lot of conscious capacity.” These experts point to the increased difficulty of noticing and processing non-verbal social cues during video calls, the lack of natural conversational rhythm caused by freezing streams and choppy audio…even looking at our own faces constantly can be stress-inducing!

Amazingly, writing letters to and receiving letters from our loved ones is a far more positive social experience than the looping roller coaster of daily video calls. We aren’t the first to notice this. To support lonely children during the pandemic, Kids Help Phone organized a letter-writing campaign where kids from across Canada could share letters of encouragement—a global, open-concept pen pals’ program. There’s an Ohio-based non-profit organization called Love For Our Elders whose sole mission is to share love with lonely seniors by empowering strangers to write them letters. Even the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is getting in on the action, encouraging employees to write letters to elderly relatives to “brighten your loved one’s day.”

One advocate for letter-writing as a balm for the isolation of COVID-19 is Nashville social entrepreneur Courtney Cochran. Through her organization Shut-In Social Club, Courtney connects potential pen pals across the country and empowers Americans to write letters of encouragement to strangers. Courtney calls letter-writing during the pandemic “a silver lining on a very gray cloud. We just need it right now, more than ever…” Americans agree: the U.S. Postal Service reported higher product sales, including stamps, in April 2020, and also published survey results showing one in six American consumers were sending more mail to loved ones during the pandemic.

Now, you’re reading this and thinking: This sounds like a wonderful thing to do in your personal life. But why not your professional life?

Think about it. Your customers, donors, and leads are people just as much as your friends and family are. They’re feeling the same weight of isolation we all are – the strain of too many video calls, missed family time, the loss of their favourite hobbies and social activities.

We often think about ways to offer an open heart and a shoulder to cry on for those we love. Why not those our business depends on as well? Here at Postalgia, we know about the power of handwritten letters. We help businesses, charities, and other organizations produce and send them at-scale, to create an intimate personal connection with thousands of contacts.

Consider sending our handwritten letters to your professional contacts—not to sell anything, but to offer something. Offer to help. Offer to hear. Offer to offset some of the hurt they have experienced due to this pandemic—a pain we have all experienced in our own way. Use handwritten letters to commit a humble good: letting them know you’re here, you’re living this too, and we’re all in it together.

Doctors, nurses, grocery store staff, and other essential and frontline workers—these are the folks carrying the heaviest weight in the fight against the pandemic. But we all have a part to play. And maybe your part is the simple, radical act of sending a letter, to let someone know you care.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Turning Donors and Customers into your Fundraisers and Salespeople

Every fundraiser or salesperson knows that the easiest people to turn into donors and customers are already part of their network. A lot of the reasons why prospects are hesitant to buy or donare, or why they stop donating and buying, are mitigated by them knowing you personally. Your passion is contagious, they hear from you often, and they trust you – so they trust that their money is in good hands or that they’re getting a good product.

But the sad truth is that even the most social butterfly runs out of friends, family, and associates eventually, and if you want to build a sustainable donor or client base, you’re going to need to reach beyond your own network.

That doesn’t mean that you need to lose the power of network effects, though; it just means that your network can’t be the only one that is activated for your cause.

To illustrate what I mean, I’ll tell you a story about a chain of restaurants in my hometown of Toronto, Ontario: Oliver & Bonacini (O&B). You can check out their instagram here. I don’t work from them, and they don’t pay me, but I’m happy to give them some serious love on my blog, on my social, and in person. You’ll soon see why.

An associate of mine once asked me to meet her at one of O&B’s restaurants. We sat down to eat, and the food was good – as was the service – so I casually mentioned that I was glad she had picked the place, and that I was enjoying myself.

Unexpectedly, this led to an passionate outburst from across the table. She didn’t just like the restaurant, but loved it. The service wasn’t just good, but it was great! She had a half-dozen anecdotes to back up her claims, told me that she always has her meetings at O&B restaurants, and encouraged me to try Canoe, O&B’s fancy restaurant with a view in the heart of downtown.

I had a special occasion coming up, so I took her up on her recommendation, and made a reservation at Canoe. At the time, I didn’t think much about the hostess asking me if it was my first time eating at Canoe, what occasion I was celebrating, and whether or not we had any allergies.

When we arrived, we were informed that we would be given the best table in the house – right by the window with a breathtaking view of the city skyline – since we were celebrating a special occasion. We were escorted to our table, where a personal card with well wishes was waiting for us on the table. Finally, we were given free dessert (which I know a lot of restaurants do for birthday and anniversaries, but with the card and the view it seemed somehow totally unique and special).

I did what I always do when I receive exceptional service, or a kind gesture: I sent the restaurant a thank-you note.

Something totally unprecedented happened: The manager, Masa, mailed me a card back.

I was totally blown away by this incredible gesture of customer service. I had just spent a fairly significant amount of money at a quite expensive restaurant, and not only did I feel that I had gotten my money’s worth, but I felt immensely valued as a customer. Instead of feeling the pain of the expensive purchase, I was left with only good feelings about the restaurant, the manager, and the entire experience.

You can probably guess what happened next: I posted on my social channels, I began singing their praises to friends, and I started taking my guests – especially business associates, clients, and prospects – to O&B restaurants.

Now I am the person on the other side of the table, chatting passionately about how great this restaurant chain is. I have introduced dozens of people to their restaurants, in addition to all of the love that I have given them on social channels like this one. I am now not just a customer, but an activist customer.

Those small little gestures cost the company no more than a few dollars, and earned them a customer for life, who not only spends an inordinate amount of money at their restaurants (to the exclusion of lots of other restaurants), but is also an activist customer, introducing his entire network to the chain regularly and passionately.

I have extremely positive associations with the O&B brand, and have gone from first time customer to evangelist for their business due solely to a few small, well-placed, intentional but inexpensive gestures.

My network is now at their disposal. Your donors and customers’ networks can be at your disposal if you put in the small, personal touches that turn them into referral machines.

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Why Thanking Your Donors is So Important

I am always shocked to hear non-profit professionals tell me that they don’t thank their donors. The logic goes that people open their hearts and wallets to charities and non-profits because they want to help a good cause, and doing so is enough reward in and of itself.

While it’s true that selflessness and a drive to better the world is the primary motivator of many gifts, fundraising professionals who take that approach will notice their donor base dwindling, and the size of donations decreasing year over year.

The simple truth is that donor dollars are as valuable to them as they are to you, and while fundraisers may mistakenly think that donors will continue to donate as their default action, the opposite is actually true – especially in bad times.

Thanking donors is one of the easiest methods of donor retention, for a few very simple reasons:

First of all, human nature drives a lot of charitable and philanthropic activity. Donors may have selfless intentions when they make their original donations, but like any other human beings, they crave the feeling of social belonging, which is triggered by recognition.

You would be amazed how many fundraisers immediately recognize the value of putting together elaborate gala dinners to honor donors, or putting their names on billboards and buildings as an incentive to inspire their donations, but fail to recognize the same behaviors at play with a simple, $2 handwritten thank-you card.

Another benefit of thanking donors is staying top of mind. Any number of events or thoughts may have triggered their first donation to your organization – maybe they saw an effective piece of marketing material, heard about you from a friend, or were personally touched by the cause that you raise money for in the time leading up to their first donation.

What will trigger their second donation? Their third? Their ninth consecutive donation? A thank-you note makes its recipient feel good, and the more well-conceived and executed the thank-you, the more that feeling lasts. A lasting feeling of goodwill is a great way to stay top of mind next Christmas, tax season, or whenever your donors decide if and where to direct their charitable dollars.

Fundraisers should also be aware that donors tend to link an organization’s ability to keep in touch with that organization’s need for donations.

Donors may say to themselves, “if they’re not keeping in touch with me, acknowledging me, or thanking me, it’s probably because they have so many other donors to keep in touch with, to acknowledge, and to thank.” and then they may ask themselves, “if they have so many other donors, do they really need me?”

If you don’t thank your donors – if you treat them as unimportant – they will assume that they are not needed. They will direct their dollars to an organization that needs them more, not out of a selfish need to be recognized, but out of a selfless desire to have an impact where they are needed.

Finally, thank you notes are a great way to remind your donors that there are real people, and not a faceless organization, at the other end of their donation.

Donors who are never thanked have no way of knowing that their donation was received and put to good use. They throw their dollars into the abyss, and are lucky if they receive a black and white, barcoded tax receipt in a windowed envelope a year later – or worse: they hear nothing from you until you ask them for money again and again.

Thanking donors is one of the most important functions of a fundraiser – consider it a choice between saying “thank you” to your donors, or saying “goodbye” to them. It should be one of the easiest things to justify to the rest of the organization, but in case it isn’t, gently remind them of these key takeaways:

  • Saying thank you lets donors know that they are donating to real people, and not faceless organizations – a key ingredient in letting them feel that their money is put to good use.
  • Saying thank you lets your donors know that each of them is important to you, which makes them feel that your organization needs them, and doesn’t take them for granted.
  • Saying thank you in a powerful and personal way – like a handwritten note of gratitude – helps trigger long-lasting feelings of joy and goodwill, which keeps your organization top of your donor’s mind
  • Saying thank you appeals to human nature – people crave feelings of social belonging, and recognition and expressions of gratitude help them achieve those feelings

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