Write a Personal Donor Birthday Card in 7 Seconds


Have you ever wanted to send a truly personal and handwritten birthday card to all of your donors, but found it to be too time-consuming and impractical? Well, imagine being able to accomplish this task in just 7 seconds using a nonprofit CRM! The Nonprofit Finance Fund’s State of the Nonprofit Sector survey found that in 2020, 52% of nonprofits reported an increase in demand for their services, while only 22% reported an increase in funding. This indicates that many nonprofits are being asked to do more with less. To counter the urgent need for funding, stewardship must be practiced regularly. Sending personalized birthday cards is a simple but meaningful way to express gratitude and build loyalty among your donor base.



One of the most important assets you have is your donor base. These individuals have chosen to support your cause and help you achieve your mission, and it’s essential that you show them how much you value their contribution. One way to do this is by sending personalized birthday cards to your donors.

When you take the time to acknowledge your donors on their birthday, it demonstrates that you care about them as valued members of your community and not just as a source of funding. This personal touch can help to strengthen your relationship with your donors and can lead to increased engagement and support in the future.

Sending birthday cards also provides an opportunity to thank your donors for their past support and remind them of the impact their donations have had. By sharing specific examples of how their contributions have made a difference, you can help to reinforce their commitment to your cause and inspire them to continue giving. In addition to building stronger relationships with your donors, a birthday card can also help to differentiate your nonprofit from others.

Sending personalized birthday cards is a cost-effective way to acknowledge and celebrate your donors without requiring a large investment of time or resources. By using a nonprofit CRM, you can easily automate this process to ensure that every donor receives a birthday card on time. This makes it easy to scale this approach and ensure that every donor receives the same level of personalized attention. So why not start sending personalized birthday cards today and see the impact it can have on your donor retention and overall satisfaction?

Birthday Card Yellow w_pen


Creating personalized birthday cards for donors can be a daunting task, especially if you have a large donor base. Postalgia specializes in taking these large and time consuming tasks, so you can put your focus and resources into vital nonprofit work such as, fundraising and services the community.

This is where donor segmentation comes in handy. With the help of a nonprofit CRM system, the process can be streamlined and made more efficient. By setting up a template for the message and using the CRM to export donor data, it’s possible to create and send personalized cards at scale with minimal time and effort.

Each field in a personalized birthday card can correspond to a field in your CRM or database. This means that you can use the data you have on the donor to create deeply personal and meaningful messages. For example, you can include their name, donation history, or specific program they have supported in the past. By using this information, you can craft a message that speaks directly to the donor and highlights the impact they have had on your organization.

In addition to the personalized fields, you can also randomize the lines in the generic parts of the birthday greeting. This allows you to add an extra layer of personalization by tailoring the message to the individual donor’s interests, preferences, or relationship with the organization. This can make the message feel even more special and can help to build a stronger connection between the donor and your organization.

By using a column in your data that indicates the donor’s birthday, you can set your card to be mailed a certain number of days before that day. This ensures that the donor receives the card in a timely manner and can enjoy the warm, fuzzy feelings that come with being appreciated on their special day. This level of personalization and attention to detail can make a big difference in how your donors perceive your organization.

While there is some upfront work involved in setting up the template and integrating your CRM with the mailing process, the actual process of exporting data and creating the cards takes only about 7 seconds. This means that you can achieve a high level of personalization and impact with minimal time and effort. By taking advantage of the power of a nonprofit CRM system, you can make sure that each of your donors feels appreciated and valued, which can lead to increased engagement, loyalty, and support over time.


Dear Samantha,

Congratulations on turning 58 years young! 

I wanted to wish you a happy birthday on behalf of myself, Sandra, and all of us at The Riverdale Hospital Foundation! 

I hope this birthday is extra meaningful for you with the knowledge that you’ve had such a huge impact on our neonatal care program. 

Hoping to see you at our hoops for heart fundraiser in June! 



P.S. Please give my best to Craig and Emily!




Dear [First Name],

Congratulations on turning [Upcoming Age] years young!

I wanted to wish you a happy birthday on behalf of myself, [Relationship Manager Two], and all of us at The Riverdale Hospital Foundation!

I hope this birthday is extra meaningful for you with the knowledge that you’ve had such a huge impact on our [Project name].

Hoping to see you at our [next event] in [event month]!


[Relationship Manager One]

P.S. Please give my best to [Spouse and Children Names]!



Sending personalized birthday cards to your donors is a simple yet effective way to show your appreciation and build stronger relationships. With the help of a nonprofit CRM system, this process can be streamlined and made more efficient, taking only 7 seconds to create and send each card. By using donor data to craft deeply personal messages and highlighting the impact of their contributions, you can inspire your donors to continue supporting your cause.

This cost-effective approach can differentiate your nonprofit from others, leading to increased donor retention and overall satisfaction. So why not start implementing this approach today and reap the benefits of stronger donor relationships?



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How to Recession Proof Your Nonprofit



With the looming thought of a recession, nonprofits are at high risk of financial struggles. Now is the time to prepare and organize a robust strategy to make it through this challenging time. As donations and funding from government sources may decline, there will be an increased demand for services. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy: In the first half of 2022, donor numbers fell by 7% compared to the first half of 2021. This is because there was a decline in the number of small gift donors between the months January to July. With a recession upon us, small gift donors are more likely to temporarily lapse. This makes it challenging for nonprofits to sustain their operations and continue to serve their beneficiaries effectively. However, with careful planning, effective communication, and good stewardship, nonprofit leaders can mitigate the effects of a recession. In this article, we will explore some strategies that can help your nonprofit weather the storm and emerge stronger in the long run.

Article Highlights:

How Will a Recession Affect Your Nonprofit?

Make a Plan

Be Transparent

Make stewardship a top priority


How Will a Recession Affect Your Nonprofit?

Recession affects internal and external aspects of your nonprofit. As individuals and businesses may have less disposable income, you will see a decline in donation amounts and experience lower retention rates. Government funding is likely to decrease due to budget cuts. There will be an Increased demand for services, as recessions often result in higher levels of poverty, unemployment, and other economic challenges, which can lead to an increased demand for services from nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits may need to stretch their resources to meet this increased demand. Your organization may find fundraising more difficult as raising more funds will be less successful especially when trying to attract new donors. This inevitably leads to damaging your reputation and more unfortunately affects your capacity to help the cause.

Make a plan

Make a Plan

Don’t wait until you start to feel the effects of recession, be prepared and start planning for a potential economic downturn. Start to build a safety net for your organization now. Anticipate any possible financial struggles and prepare beforehand to reduce its adverse effects. Rather than waiting, take action to improve your organization’s programs and initiatives. Schedule regular meetings with your development or membership team, even if they are brief, to brainstorm ideas for strengthening donor relationships and communication. These meetings can lead to effective plans that can make a significant difference. Take into account how this will change your future and create a long-term plan. Imagine the desired outcomes for your organization in the next five years. Record the milestones you wish to reach, the accomplishments you want to achieve, and the prerequisites necessary to accomplish them. Equally significant is to ensure that you convey your organization’s long-term vision to your donor base to sustain their support, even if they have changed their capacity to donate temporarily.


Be Transparent

Effective communication about the effect of recession is essential for nonprofit leaders, not only with lower-level management and staff but with all stakeholders, including the board, donors, and volunteers. It’s crucial to inform everyone about the organization’s financial situation and the plan to ensure its sustainability. By keeping everyone informed and involved, your nonprofit can benefit from the collective input and support of the entire team.

Be sure to communicate clearly and transparently with your community members to maintain trust, manage expectations, and keep their supporters engaged. It is important to highlight that now is the time that you need your donors more than ever and gently remind them that the economic turmoil is tough for everyone but even tougher for those in need. Explain that there is an ongoing need for support from their community members, highlighting the impact that donations and volunteerism can have during a difficult economic period. Communicate this information in an informative manner and provide specific details on how the recession affects your organization.

Provide your community with the assurance that you have a plan of action for the recession, and show them that these hard times are just a speed bump in an otherwise hopeful future. Avoid using language that is asking for “bailouts” or is seemingly a “cry for help”.

Affect nonprofit

Make stewardship a top priority 

This is the time to maintain relationships, by practicing good stewardship. Send your donors reminders that you value their relationship and you need their support. Amid a recession, donors tend to reduce the number of nonprofits they support financially. However, reaching out to them directly at this time may increase the likelihood of your organization becoming one of the nonprofits they continue to support in the long run. Therefore, it’s crucial to nurture and maintain a positive relationship with donors now to ensure their continued support in the future. By cultivating and stewarding donors today, you can improve the chances of retaining them as committed supporters. During periods of economic instability, there can be the mistake of directing a majority of resources towards gaining new donors, therefore neglecting current customer or donor base. Ensure that your recession plan aims to the retention of existing donors as that is more likely to see results in maintaining funding.


Your stewardship efforts should have these key priorities:

Showing gratitude by saying thank you to supporters

Share impact and success stories

Stay in contact with donors

Acknowledge any hard decisions your organization has had to make

Maintain authenticity and transparency



Recessions can have an impact on both the internal and external aspects of nonprofit organizations. Donations and retention rates may decline, and government funding may decrease. Increased demand for services can stretch an organization’s resources. To prepare for a potential economic downturn, nonprofits need to start planning now and improve their programs and initiatives, including strengthening donor relationships and communication. Clear and transparent communication is essential to maintain trust with all stakeholders. Emphasize the ongoing need for support, highlighting the impact of donations and volunteerism during a difficult economic period. Maintaining relationships and practicing good stewardship is crucial to retaining donors, to ensure the retention of existing donors as a strategy to maintain funding.

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Nonprofit Stewardship: Why It’s Important


Donor retention is an ongoing campaign, and stewardship is the most important tool to be successful. Major donors have a higher retention rate than small donors. According to FundraisingReportCard.com, donors who give less than $100 have a retention rate of 19.1% and donors who give $1000-$5000 have a retention rate of 31.46%. Many non profits mistakenly think that this is confirmation that they should focus their resources on stewardship of major donors. When in fact they have the cause and effect reversed; the lack of stewardship of small donors is the very reason they have such a high churn rate. The high retention rate among major gifts donors is proof that stewardship works. If non profits were to steward all of their donors at the level they steward their major donors they should expect to see similarly high retention rates across segments often resulting in millions of extra dollars raised.

Article Sections:

  1. What is Stewardship?
  2. Goals of Stewardship
  3. Stewardship on Donor Retention
  4. Creating a Stewardship Program
  5. Examples of Stewardship Mail


What is Stewardship?

The objective of nonprofit stewardship is to nurture your relationship with donors and community members and the goal is to maintain good retention rates across giving segments. Stewardship is how nonprofits reach out and stay connected to patrons. Behind the scenes, stewardship involves collecting donor data, storing it within a CRM, and establishing a robust donor segmentation system. From the supporter’s perspective it involves many touch points reminding donors about the impact that they’re having, expressing gratitude in a meaningful way, as well as introducing them to the lives that they are touching while supporting the cause.

What is Stewardship

Goals of Stewardship

To practice good stewardship requires keeping donors informed about the allocation of their donations and giving them satisfaction that funding is being used effectively and efficiently. Following up with a thank you message after donations is an excellent way to show gratitude. Showing gratitude is one of the cornerstones of developing relationships with donors. Stewardship is never ending and should always be in the process of being improved.

Donor Retention

Stewardship on Donor Retention

Stewardship is key to retaining donors. Retaining donors is also more cost efficient than gaining new donors. Stewardship takes time, money, and effort but it is worth it. Nurturing relationships with your big as well as your small donors is important. FreeWill.com uses a pyramid to represent the levels of donors, and you can use it as a visual tool to guide your stewardship decisions. At the base of the pyramid (you can think of this as the foundation) are occasional donors, volunteers, and others who help in your community. This level of participants is essential for your nonprofit to work day to day, so stewardship is very important. In the middle are recurring and annual donors, which is where a large portion of your funding comes from. Then at the top are major gift and planned gift donors, which we mention above could have a high return rate. Use this analogy of donors to base where and how much you invest your stewardship.


Another framework is the activist ladder which employs stewardship to elevate volunteers into occasional givers, occasional givers into recurring donors, and recurring donors into major gift givers.


Creating a Stewardship Program

Stewardship is a strategy, so you need to plan a program. Build a robust stewarding team with these key roles: Director of donor relations,  Stewardship officer, Relationship manager. With a strong team performing the shared duties of stewardship, a lot can be accomplished.

Organize your donor data into a CRM system to implement donor segmentation, so you can approach your interactions with members with authenticity. With an organized system of your donors information, you can enforce a system that thanks donors when they give a gift. Keeping the donor pyramid in mind, stewardship efforts can be based on need and the gift size.


Highlight donor recognition. Show gratitude. Make your people feel a part of your organization:

  • Curate a portal on your organization’s website that acts as a donor appreciation page that gives members the option to show that they have donated when they contribute to the cause.
  • Make sure to refer to donors by their preferred named via their preferred method of communication (eg. phone, mail, email, etc).
  • Aim to stay in contact with all donors, even inactive donors.
  • Plan to run campaigns that focus on your mission and how donors take part in the cause

Set goals that are achievable. There are a few points to aim for in your stewardship program: 

  • Retaining a certain number of new donors based on a specific campaign
  • Receiving bigger donations from a specific section of donors
  • Having a increased response rate on account of your program

Setting goals are a great incentive for your team to work towards and are also a way of making improvements to your strategy. You can learn a lot from the results and you can change your strategy as you go.

Stewardship relies on communication, so your stewarding team should organize a communication strategy. This strategy should cover when you will contact donors, plan the contents of each communication piece, communicate upcoming events, letting members know about volunteer opportunities, provide concise and well organized program information, and present relevant stories of people who are part of your organization. All donors are important and need different kinds of engagement, so plan to have a specific strategy for lapsed donors.

Stewardship Package Yellow _R2 copy

Examples of Stewardship Mail

Stewardship is a category of communication. To reiterate, stewardship is about nurturing relationships and maintaining donors. It is like a conversation, you are just trying to stay connected and have wholesome interactions with donors. Stay away from asking for donations and remain on the side of gratitude. In a previous article: 10 pieces of mail to send each year, we have highlighted below examples of stewardship mail.


Stewardship Letter: You would send a stewardship letter to them after they have donated, to keep them informed about how their gift is being used. It often includes an impact report, newsletter or other information.

Thank you Card: You should include in your thank you card: A personalized thank you message, an appealing design, a handwritten note, a signature from a real person, and contact information.You should not include an ask of any kind. This is an opportunity to show gratitude and strengthen the relationship between your donor and your brand, not to ask for more money (though don’t be surprised if your thank you note generates a second gift).

Impact report: The purpose of impact reports (which can sometimes take the form of annual reports, quarterly reports, etc…), are to communicate the progress made helping the people or advancing the cause that your organization is supporting.

Lapsed Donor Letter: Remember that inactive donors don’t think of themselves as inactive, they see themselves as having previously donated to the cause. Simply the act of reminding them that their support is needed can be enough to reactivate a critical mass of your lapsed donors. Others may require reasons as to why they should give, and why now. Be sure to include urgency in your lapsed donor appeal, as well as specifics.

Donor Anniversary Card: A donor anniversary card celebrates a past gift, which has the simultaneous effect of promoting gratitude – like a thank you card – and reminding donors that their support is needed – like a lapsed donor letter. One of the reasons that these cards are so effective is that people tend to behave seasonally, and whatever triggered their generosity at this time last year is likely to do so again this year. The focus should be on celebrating your donor for their past gift, while thanking them for their implied future support.



Stewardship is about sustaining your relationship with all your donors. Each type of donor plays an important role in supporting your nonprofit organization. Continually investing in and improving your stewardship efforts will have an outsized impact on engagement as well as impact.

Traditionally, stewardship has required a large investment of resources and time, which has made it difficult for smaller organizations and leaner teams to extend good stewardship past a few large donors.

Postalgia strongly believes in giving the major gifts experience to ALL donors employing personalized handwritten mail, which has been shown to re-engage lapsed donors, increase retention rates, and increase gift amounts. Contact us today to discuss your next mail campaign.

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10 Pieces of Mail your Nonprofit should be Sending Each Year


Get these 10 pieces of mail out per year, and your retention rates will rise! A significant benefit to direct mail is its customizability to creating authentic communication with members of your community.

According to Nonprofitpro.com, email response rates are extremely low. So low that they don’t even reach 1%. On average the email response rate is 0.1%, online display marketing is 0.2%, and paid search is 0.6%. Direct mail has a higher response rate average of 5.3%. Direct mail impact can be even higher than the response rates imply, as direct mail can also increase online giving.



Solicitation Letter

The solicitation letter requests donations, contributions, or volunteers from the recipient. This letter is properly addressed to the addressee, clearly states who or which organization it is from, then goes into detail about the purpose of this solicitation and how the recipient can take action. This letter acts as a vehicle to describe the “ask” , such as the upcoming fundraising event. The fundraising event details that should be mentioned are, the name of the event, the purpose, who is sponsoring the event, the date, the venue, and any other important details. Always ensure to include details on how the recipient can be a part of the event or ways to donate to the cause.

Here is a solicitation newsletter format:

  1. Organization name and address
  2. Date
  3. Name and address of recipient
  4. Salutation (Dear Salutation, )
  5. First paragraph: introduce your organization and summarize your mission
  6. Second Paragraph: state the details of the fundraising event
  7. Third paragraph: request an ask in the form of: attendance to event, donation, volunteers
  8. Fourth paragraph: Let them know you are open to being contacted and include contact information
  9. Fifth paragraph: Express gratitude in advance
  10. Complimentary close (Warm Regards,)
  11. Handwritten signature above your name
  12. PS. message (optional, but encouraged)




An event invitation can be paired with your solicitation letter if the contents of the letter talks about an upcoming event. Take care to have an eye catching design that is easy to read and accessible (Clear Print Accessibility Guide).

What to include in your invitation:

  1. Name of event
  2. Date and time
  3. Location
  4. RSVP details
  5. Your organization’s name
  6. Any sponsors
  7. Key event details
  8. Any other important information
  9. Contact information



Stewardship Letter

Stewardship is about building the relationship you have with donors and maintaining open communication. You would send a stewardship letter to them after they have donated, to keep them informed about how their gift is being used. By being transparent about the allocation of funds, it allows donors to feel more involved and connected to your organization. Your goal is to provide them with reassurance that their gift is making an impact and meets their expectations and intentions.


Here is a stewardship newsletter format:

  1. Organization name and address
  2. Date
  3. Name and address of recipient
  4. Salutation (Dear Salutation, )
  5. First paragraph: Mention how you have received their gift, the gift amount, express organization’s gratitude
  6. Second paragraph: Quick summary of mission statement, explain how funds will/have been used
  7. Third paragraph:  Authentic statement of gratitude (1-2 sentences)
  8. Fourth paragraph: Let them know you are open to being contacted and include contact information
  9. Complimentary close (Thank You,)
  10. Handwritten signature above your name
  11. PS. message (optional, but encouraged)

*Important Tip: Never ask for donations in your stewardship endeavours.



Holiday Card Yellow

Holiday cards are at the top of the list of most important pieces of mail to send out each year. According to nonprofitssource.com, their 2023 charitable giving statistics report, shows that 30% of giving happens in December. So make sure to be on schedule and create beautifully designed cards that your recipients would want to put on display. Add the personal detail of curating handwritten messages. Be clear on how they can give, whether that be via digital platforms or filling out a pledge card.



Impact Report

The purpose of impact reports (also known as annual reports), are to communicate the progress made helping the people your organization is supporting. According to a case study by Katie Boswell and Sarah Handley from thinknpc.org, there are 5 areas you should include in your impact report: need, activities, outcomes, evidence, and lessons learnt.

Need: What are the problems your organization is trying to make an impact on?

Activities: How is your organization addressing these problems?

Outcomes: What progress have these activities made on the problems?

Evidence: What evidence do you have to show you have made an impact?

Lessons learned: How/what can you improve in the future?

Impact reports can take many forms from a folded booklet to a one page piece. To ensure your recipients are reading the report, make sure you are designing it in a way that catches their attention.


Here are some tips for the design:

  1. Be consistent with your organizations brand guidelines
  2. Write your report with intention
  3. Make sure the typography is accessible (Clear Print Accessibility Guide)
  4. Include eye catching imagery
  5. Include a contact information sections
  6. Include a way to donate section



Thank You Card Yellow

Thank you cards are an essential part of good stewardship practices. The bottom line is, when you receive a donation, a thank you message should be sent back. Some helpful tips to consider when writing a thank you card, personalized thank you message, no donation ask, appealing design, make it handwritten, include a signature, and contact information. The structure of a thank you card is similar to a thank you letter, the difference is this one is condensed.


Here is a thank you card format:

  1. Salutation (Dear Salutation, )
  2. First paragraph: Acknowledge how you have received their gift, the gift amount, express organization’s gratitude (1-2 sentences)
  3. Second paragraph: Quick summary of mission statement, explain how funds will/have been used (1-2 sentences)
  4. Third paragraph:  Another authentic statement of gratitude (1 sentence)
  5. Complimentary close (Warm Regards, )
  6. Handwritten signature above your name



Pledge Card _ Reply Envelope Blue

Those who work in the nonprofit sector are no stranger to pledge cards and return/reply envelopes. They are a great way to secure consistent, long-term commitments from donors. Pledge cards are also a great way to collect your donors information for donor segmentation. The standard sections to fill out include: first and last name, email address, phone number, home address, and pledge amounts. It is also a good idea to have a section that summarizes your mission statement and how giving impacts the cause.



Lapsed Donors

There is the constant struggle to prevent lapsed donors, and sending out personalized lapsed donor letters is good stewardship practice. The type of language you use is important when you communicate with lapsed donors. Remember that inactive donors don’t think of themselves as inactive, they see themselves as having previously donated to the cause. Even if they only donated one time, take the opportunity to highlight that and use encouraging words. Make sure to stay away from language which might make them feel guilty and set a positive tone.


Here is a lapsed donor letter format:

  1. Organization name and address
  2. Date
  3. Name and address of recipient
  4. Salutation (Dear Salutation, )
  5. First paragraph: Mention that you consider them part of the community and they have donated in the past, express gratitude
  6. Second paragraph: Summarize your mission statement and explain that help is still needed
  7. Third paragraph: Provide ways to donate or participate in the community
  8. Fourth paragraph: express gratitude again
  9. Complimentary close (Thank you again, )
  10. Handwritten signature above your name
  11. PS. message (optional, but encouraged)



volunteers like donors


A donor anniversary card is similar to a lapsed donor letter. It has the same intentions; the difference is that the contents of this card is like a condensed version of the lapsed letter. This option is a less intense way to practice inactive donor stewardship. It also feels more personal, especially if there are personalized details like the message being handwritten.


Here is a donor anniversary card format:

  1. Salutation (Dear Salutation, )
  2. First paragraph: Mention that you consider them part of the community and they have donated in the past, express gratitude (1-2 sentences)
  3. Second paragraph: Quick summary of  your mission statement and explain that help is still needed (1-2 sentences)
  4. Third paragraph:  Provide ways to donate  (1 sentence)
  5. Complimentary close (Warm Regards, )
  6. Handwritten signature above your name




The end of year report is similar to the impact report, in that it is communicating the progress made toward the cause wrapped up and summarized. This report can be sent out at the end of the year, or in the early new year. You can follow the same touch-points that were mentioned above: need, activities, outcomes, evidence, and lessons learned.

Here are some tips for the design:

1. Be consistent with your organizations brand guidelines

2. Write your report with intention

3. Make sure the typography is accessible (Clear Print Accessibility Guide)

4. Include eye catching imagery

5. Include a contact information sections

6. Include a way to donate section


This article provided 10 pieces of mail with their accompanying descriptions. We also provided tools to get a preliminary start to creating these pieces, so you can add them to your annual direct mail strategy.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Prevent Lapsed Donors

Article Highlights:

  • Pay attention to you donor retention
  • Invest in stewardship
  • Implement a donor segmentation system
  • Focus on your Annual Fund Strategy



Those who work in the nonprofit sector know that donor retention is an ongoing obstacle. As retention rates continue to plummet, lapsed donor prevention efforts are a top priority.

Referencing the 2022 Quarterly Fundraising Report, “Retention is expected to decrease by -3.1% year-over-year, following last year’s -7.4% decrease…Year-to-date retention of donors from last year stands at 29.9% in Q3” (givingtuesday.org, pg. 11).



To calculate your donor retention, use the formula below! Donor retention is tough, but the good news is that it is easier to maintain repeat donors than it is to find new donors. With attention to the details and hard-work, you will be able to have your donors keep coming back. According to NeonOne.com, if you can improve your donor retention by 10%, you can reach up to a 200% increase in projected incoming donations.




Investing in something requires allocating funds and also devoting your time and effort. In the nonprofit sector, stewardship is everything. It is key to building strong relationships and making donors feel important and seen. You can do this by showing them how their involvement in your community impacts the people and cause. Be upfront by showing them your successes and your struggles. Hone in on your mission with sincerity and authenticity by taking personal approaches to communication efforts.

Invest Stewardship



We talk about this a lot. We highly encourage an in-depth donor segmentation system. Donor segmentation organizes your donors into groups based on their information, which builds your portfolio of donor data. You can use donor data to plan meaningful experiences and authentic communication between you and donors. By getting to know your donors, you can be strategic with your interactions by providing ways to participate in your community that are relevant to them.


It is a give and take as you build relationships. The more you invest in stewardship, the more information you will collect to better understand your constituents’ motivations and interests with your organization. So as your donor data grows, keep it organized in a solid CRM (constituent relationship manager).



An annual fund strategy speaks to all the money that a nonprofit organization raises throughout the year. This fund is the foundation that allows your organization to maintain day to day operations, while running special programs. The annual fund strategy is top priority! Here are your best annual fund strategy practices.


Put your team together

Coordinate a dedicated group that’s soul purpose is to organize and implement a plan throughout the year. This is an ongoing process. It is good to build a team that has at least 2-3 people, so that all jobs do not fall on one person. The various responsibilities on the team are: prospect research, fundraising events, community member outreach, and direct asks coordinator.


Conduct prospect research

Prospect research identifies donors that have the capacity and financial resources to make major gifts. With that information, you can make the decision to focus more stewardship on these donors. Prospect research can also reveal and predict who and how much they will give. Research should be a big step in your strategy.

Here’s what to look for in your research:

A donor’s previous giving history with your nonprofit and other organizations

The donor’s personal background (values, interests, hobbies, etc.)

Wealth indicators (amount given in previous donations, real estate, stock ownership, etc.)

If donor is frequently philanthropically-motivated in other ways (if they frequently volunteer with nonprofits or have served on a board of directors)

Invest in fundraising software

You will need a robust system of tools to collect your research. It is important to build an online platform that is curated for community members to donate to, which ties into ensuring that your mobile giving interface is optimized. Social media upkeep is a big job and requires a lot of time and effort, but done well can be very useful in staying connected to your community. Consider investing in an email and text-to-donate program.

Build a schedule

It is important to stay organized and plan out a schedule of staff and resources for every campaign. If you know exactly what you need, you will have an easier time initiating a campaign instead of pulling things together at the last minute.

Important schedule items:

  1. Campaign start and end dates
  2. Fundraising event dates
  3. Important administrative dates, such as tax deadlines
  4. When each phase of your marketing strategy begins and ends

Plan to show your gratitude to donors, employees, and volunteers

Saying thank you is highly recommended for successful stewardship practices. It shows that you value those who volunteered and donated to your cause. It is also a great opportunity to add authenticity and personality to your communication efforts. This is the way to build relationships. It is as easy as sending a message via phone, email, or a personal handwritten note.



The bottom line for preventing lapsed donors is maintaining or raising your donor retention. We covered important areas for you to consider focusing on to make that happen:

  1. Pay attention to you donor retention
  2. Invest in stewardship
  3. Implement a donor segmentation system
  4. Focus on your Annual Fund Strategy

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How to Get Lapsed Donors to Give Again


Lapsed donors should be a substantial focus for non profits in 2023. There have been troubling statistics that show that all retention rates are down. Organizations are losing donors and strong stewardship efforts are more important than ever. This article will provide some advice on how charities can reignite their relationship with lapsed donors.


According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP), the Q3 2022 (JAN 1, 2022 – SEP 30, 2022) reports that all types of donor retention rates are down. New Donors -14.8%, Repeat Donors -5.4%, and Recapture Donors -15%.





A lapsed donor is someone who has donated to your organization in the past but has not donated again for a significant amount of time. The average amount of time that is considered lapsed is 365 days. A lapsed donor could be any type of donor: major, small, micro, and one time. There are many reasons why a donor becomes lapsed: a change in their giving limits, priorities change, they experience a lack of stewardship efforts, or they simply haven’t been asked for donations. The good news is that it is possible to have a lapsed donor give again! Furthermore, it is easier to reengage a lapsed donor than to find a new donor because you have already built a relationship with them.

We always recommend donor segmentation and making sure your donor data is stored and organized, so you should most definitely include a segmented list of lapsed donors. This way any lapsed donor outreach can be personalized and more authentic, increasing the chances that they will donate again.


find out why lapsed


Once you have established who your lapsed donors are, it is beneficial to determine why they became lapsed donors. There are a few ways to collect that information. You can send out a survey, invest in a deceased suppression process, and inspect the data from your CRM to determine patterns that could be the reason your donors became inactive.


communication 1


Stewardship is key, so always say thank you for any size gift. The type of language you use is important when you communicate with lapsed donors. Remember that inactive donors don’t think of themselves as inactive, they see themselves as having previously donated to the cause. That is a good thing though! Even if they only donated one time, take the opportunity to highlight that and use encouraging words. Make sure to stay away from language which might make them feel guilty and set a positive tone. One course of action you can take is to send out a “we miss you” message/letter.


Positive Phrases To Use:

We miss you

You make a difference

You’re part of the change

You make an impact

Let’s reconnect!

You’re part of the community!


Another course of action you can take is to send out  a survey that identities when and how often you should communicate with them:

Once a year

4x a year

Once a month

By email only

By phone only

By direct mail only


invest in stewardship


Remember your donor detention skills! Maintain a personalized approach, and avoid cookie-cutter looking stewardship. You can do that by using your donor segmentation lists and base your solicitation efforts on your inactive donors demographic.

Keep in mind that life changes, people move, change their names, change their phone numbers and even their email addresses. So make sure to do your best to keep their information up to date. Communicate with lapsed donors to check their information in your system and if possible, provide a way to update it.

As we mentioned earlier, if a lapsed donor only gave one time, they still have an affiliation with your organization. To nurture that relationship you can keep them up to date. Send them newsletters, impact reports, community testimonies, and success stories multiple times a year. It goes a long way to take the time and care to design readable, organized, and on brand pieces of literature.


dont be afriad to ask


With the use of all your stewardship efforts, it’s time to seal the deal and make an actual ask! Keep in mind, you are not limited to asking for just donations. You can entice them back into the community by inviting them to an event as a guest or even as a volunteer. Remember that one of the reasons a donor becomes inactive is because they don’t have the capacity to donate at that moment, but you can stay positive that they still want to be part of the organization. Remember to “TREAT YOUR VOLUNTEERS LIKE FUTURE DONORS”.

In 2023 there are a plethora of ways to get in touch with your lapsed donors, email, phone, text, and direct mail. To really invest in stewardship and maintain an authentic connection, personalized and handwritten campaigns show inactive donors you appreciate their support.


What to include in your stewardship efforts:

A Positive Phrase

Newsletter keeping them up to date

An ask (Donation or way to be involved)

Donation card & reply envelope

A QR card leading to your website and donation page

An address to send cheques or letters to

Phone number

Names of communication representatives

Lots of gratitude



We had a discussion about turning your inactive donors to active once again. Once a donor becomes lapsed, there is still hope for their return because you already got over the hardest part which was their initial donation. In this article, we tackled what a lapsed donor is, how you can determine why they became inactive, communicating with lapsed donors, the importance of investing in stewardship, and how an ask can be more than just a donation, it can be asking to participate.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

How to Gain New Donors

According to the 2022 Third Quarter Fundraising Report (FEP), there has been an increase in donations by 4.7%, but a decrease in the number of donors by -7.1% a continuing trend. Nonprofits will have to rely on the bulk of their donations coming from fewer donors.




Consistent and reliable incoming funding is at risk. Although charitable giving increased in 2022, the number of donors decreased. It’s important in 2023 to make an effort to keep up your organization’s number of donors. We have covered Donor Retention in the past but now it is also mission critical to increase donation numbers by gaining new donors.

So let’s walk through how you can conduct prospect research, present social proof, reach out to one time and lapsed donors, and the importance of treating your volunteers like future donors.


prospect research


Prospect research can be referred to by a few names: donor prospecting, screening, or donor research. This research technique is used by major gift organizers, nonprofit fundraisers, and development teams. Their goal is to pinpoint high-impact donors inside and outside of a nonprofits donor pool.

Benefits of Prospect Research:

  1. EVALUATE DONORS: There could be potential major donors within your donor pool
  2. FIND NEW PROSPECTS: Expand your reach by researching for potential donors
  3. REVISE GIFT STRATEGY: By screening your prospects, you can build a robust gifting system based on donors that are more likely to donate
  4. ENHANCE FUNDRAISING ACTIVITIES: Analyze donor data to highlight fundraising trends to create successful activities
  5. DISCOVER CORPORATE GIVING OPPORTUNITIES: Discover donors with eligible corporate giving incentives such as – volunteer grants and matching gifts
  6. FILL GAPS IN DONOR DATA: Update outdated and empty donor information

Types of Prospects:

  1. Individual Donors: One time, annual, recurring
  2. Major Donors
  3. Corporate Donors
  4. Foundations

How to do prospect research:

  • In-house prospect research: Staff member or full-time research staff take on the responsibility of conducting prospect research
  • Work with prospect research consultant
  • Partner with prospect research screening company


social proof


Showing social proof is an authentic technique to attract new donors. In an article by Alfred Lua from Buffer.com, social proof is a psychological phenomenon when the actions of others give credit to the situation. For example: a potential donor is more likely to give to a charity that their friends also give to.

There are a few types of social proof: Expert, Celebrity, User, Crowd Wisdom, Friend Wisdom

5 types of social proof in the nonprofit industry with example:

Expert: Doctor who works for a hospital explaining allocation of donations and how it has helped patients
Celebrity: Public figure that has an affiliation with organization and donates on a regular basis
User: Community testimonials
Crowd Wisdom: Showing number of donors
Friend Wisdom: A friend that donates to a specific charity

Showcasing social proof can be done in a multitude of ways, whether you keep it simple and show more depth. You can include community testimonials in your direct mail campaign, post a video of a volunteer talking about their experience with your nonprofit on social media, or even have a recipient tell their story at a fundraising event. Storytelling  is perhaps the most powerful form of social proof. It can evoke emotion in potential donors that leads to them feeling more passionate about the cause.



reach out lapsed


Circling back to the statistic above proving that charitable giving increased in 2022, but the number of donors decreased. It is vital to be cautious if you only rely on a small percentage of major donors and to remember that small donors are important too. 

Make an effort to reach out to one time and lapsed donor because even one donation is the beginning of a relationship. It goes a long way to communicate to donors and let them know they helped out, and that they are a part of the cause. Nurturing your relationship to small donors will go a long way with maintaining incoming donations. Your solicitation endeavours to one time donors could turn them into recurring donors. Invest in your relationships with big and small donors.



volunteers like donors


Let’s not forget about the importance of volunteers! Your volunteers are potential prospects that could easily become new donors. They have an established relationship with your organization and have already displayed their passion and commitment to the cause. Always remember to follow up with your volunteers because they are what keeps your nonprofit organization going. By staying connected to your volunteers, you are strengthening the relationship and giving them a memorable experience with your organization. This goes a long way for their future as a donor.

Deliver a personalized follow up to your volunteers as a gesture of gratitude. There are various ways to communicate with volunteers, a phone call, an email, or a personalized handwritten letter or note. The more genuine, the better. Timing is also key, so ensure to follow up as soon as possible after an event or campaign.

What to include in a follow up:

  1. A heartfelt thank you
  2. Their impact on the cause
  3. A way to provide feedback (survey, email address, phone number, etc)


With the increase of giving but decrease in number of donors, donation stability is at risk in 2023. The focus this year should be on gaining new donors. The strategies we discussed are improving your donor data by conducting prospect research, presenting potential donors with social proof to show legitimacy, making an effort to maintain a relationship with lapsed and one time donors, and treating your volunteers like future donors.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Establishing your Nonprofit Brand: 3 Brand Design Fundamentals


Establishing your nonprofit brand can be intimidating, but let’s start with some basics! This article discusses 3 vital design aspects to consider when designing your nonprofit brand. You will learn about important design fundamentals: logos, colours, and typography. Having a preliminary understanding of brand design, will help you and your designer use your brand assets and establish a distinct and cohesive nonprofit brand. Legitimizing the look and feel of your brand will inevitably bring recognition and success.


First off, what is a logo? A logo is made of text, shapes, and colours that indicates the purpose of your organization. Your logo is a key part of your brand because it is going to appear on all things that pertain to your organization’s charity work. Your logo is also a symbol that volunteers and donors will remember and use to differentiate you from other nonprofits.

It is common to want everything but the kitchen sink in your logo design, but that is not realistic and frankly, it’s bad design. You want your logo to be: simplistic, memorable, scalable, readable, and distinct.

Take a look at a few of these nonprofit logos. They are displayed in black and white to show the impact and recognizability of a good logo design, even with no colour. In the next section, we will discuss colour.



If you want to see more examples of logos, check out this article that shows 75 Top Nonprofit Logos.


Your logo will appear in many places such as: websites, impact reports, banners, fundraising material, documents, presentations, merchandise, and more. It’s important that you keep the appropriate logo file formats for use in digital and print media.

Before you read the next part, if you are not already familiar with Raster(pixel) vs. Vector files, check out this quick read article that explains the difference between the two.


Here are 4 common logo file formats to know:

PNG – Portable Network Graphic

File extension: LOGO.png

  • Raster file – Pixel based format
  • Can be compressed and decompressed without losing quality
  • Supports transparency
  • Easy to read and access, can be opened on computer, mobile, and tablets
  • Use on: website, blog, as favicon(icon that shows up in browser tab), presentations, letterhead on documents, social media profile, as an image (e.g. watermark on document)


SVG – Scalable Vector Graphic

File extension: LOGO.svg

  • Vector file format
  • Can be scaled as big or small as needed, without losing any quality
  • Supports transparency
  • Small file size compared to PNG and JPG
  • Editable on design software like Adobe Illustrator
  • Web-friendly XML language
  • Use on: print media, shirts, merchandise, stickers, labels, etc
  • Should be used when sending your logo to a designer to make changes


EPS – Encapsulated PostScript

File extension: LOGO.eps

  • Vector file format
  • Can be scaled as big or small as needed, without losing any quality
  • Editable on design software like Adobe Illustrator and photoshop
  • Tricky to open in softwares other than Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop
  • Supports transparency
  • Use on: print media, shirts, merchandise, stickers, labels, etc
  • Can be used when sending your logo to a designer to make changes, but make sure to check with your designer or printer first


PDF – Portable Document Format

File extension: LOGO.pdf

  • Can be vector or pixel-based, it depends on how the PDF was created originally
  • Easy to read and share
  • Supports transparency
  • Format is consistent on every device
  • Use on: print media, shirts, merchandise, stickers, labels, etc
  • Only editable on Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop


It can be intimidating to grasp file formats, so here is a resource that goes more in depth into the 4 common logo file formats.



Colours are important to establish to maintain a cohesive look and feel for your nonprofit brand. It is important to keep in mind that a good brand has no more than 4 colours. When choosing your colours, you will want a light colour for backgrounds, dark colour for text, a neutral colour, and a contrasting colour. You don’t have to choose 4 colours, but you shouldn’t have more than that.

This is Google’s colour palette, it follows these rules.




There is meaning associated with colours. If you are not sure where to begin when choosing your colours you can think about what certain colours mean.


Green – Light shades represent growth, freshness, eco-friendly. Dark shades represent wealth, money, and cash.

Yellow – Happiness, positivity, and welcoming attitude.

Blue – Light shades represent stability, openness, flow. Dark shades represent trust, security, and comfort.Red – Passion, excitement, and energy.

Purple – Creativity, spirituality, luxury.

White – Peace, purity, calming nature.

Black – Bold, serious, authoritative, elegant.


Circling back to the logos shown in the last section, take a look at how colour enhances logos.


After you have chosen your colours, you must keep a record of the specific HEX code, RGB values, CMYK values and Pantone® (PMS). This can be an intimidating concept, but your graphic designer will know what these are. Each colour format is used for different purposes.


Pantone® (PMS) and CMYK are for printing purposes.

HEX and RGB are for digital purposes.


This is how each colour format is listed for the specific blue Google uses.

HEX code: #4285F4

RGB Values: (66, 133, 244)

CMYK Values: (71, 47, 0, 0)

Pantone®: 279 C

Here is a link that shows the rest of Google’s colour palette https://www.brandcolorcode.com/google



Font selection is another beast when it comes to establishing your nonprofit brand. There are an endless number of fonts out there.

To make it simple, here are a few tips you can use to make the process easier:

  • Choose a font that is different from your logo
  • Only use a serif or sans serif font (Serif: Bodoni, Sans Serif: Helvetica)
  • Make sure it is readable and legible
  • Get a designer to help guide you through font choices


There are a few options for how you can obtain the rights to use a font. You can either buy a font or find a free font. It is crucial if you are downloading a free font that it is free for commercial use. There are a lot of instances where you can download a font for free but it is NOT for commercial use.

List of places to buy fonts:







List of free font downloads:

*https://fonts.google.com/ *




NOTE: Google Fonts (https://fonts.google.com/) is the best when it comes to free fonts. They are all open source, high quality, easy to download, and can be embedded directly into your website.



This article covered 3 basic design fundamentals: logos, colour, and typography. It touched on what a logo is and the various aspects you should consider when figuring out its design. There was also information on logo file formats and when to use them. The colours section talked about how colour enhances a nonprofit brand design and how to specify your brand colours for digital and print use. Finally, this article ended on typography, what you need to consider when choosing your fonts and where you can find them.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Should You Ask For Donations When Saying Thank You?

“Dogs look up to you, cats look down on you. Give me a pig! He looks you in the eye and treats you as an equal.” 
– Sir Winston Churchill

Recently a friend remarked that she doesn’t like cats, because they only show you affection when they want something – food, attention, etc…

Dogs, on the other hand, may be driven by the same innate motivators, but they are less transparent in their self-interest, and so their affection seems credible, says this friend.

As someone who loves cats and dogs equally, I am not sure that I agree with my friend’s cynical perspective on the bond between human and animal, but the timing of the observation was impeccable.

I had just begun reading a paper from Professor K. Sudhir et al. at the Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics at Yale University that specifically dealt with sincerity when you want something.

The paper, Greedy or Grateful? Asking for More When Thanking Donors, details the results of an experiment, executed in concert with a non-profit, that saw nearly 200,000 donors receive a direct mail piece with several calls to action of varying subtleties.

Some donors were asked explicitly to donate again while being thanked. Some were thanked and asked to like the non-profit on Facebook. Some were simply thanked, and though a reply envelope and donation mechanism (in the form of a reply coupon) were included in the mailer, neither an ask nor a call to action was made.

The findings were particularly interesting and it’s well worth your while to read the study in its entirety (though I happily provide what I find to be the salient details below):


  • Non-profits know the importance of saying thank-you (for more on this, see here, here, and here), but with limited budgets already stretched thin, there is a temptation to use expensive stewardship opportunities as a chance to ask for money.


  • Asking for more money while thanking donors has the opposite  of the intended effect amongst frequent, recent, and high value donors. They seemingly interpret the expression of gratitude as insincere, and some punish the organization by giving less than they otherwise would have, or not giving at all.


  • For these donors, simply including a reply coupon and envelope can serve as a reminder, and increase the likelihood that they will donate.


  • Segmenting the list proved extremely effective, as “lapsed, infrequent, and lower monetary value donors” were moved to donate more by the explicit call to action.


By targeting different messages to different segments – including explicit calls to action for lapsed, infrequent, and lower monetary value donors, while avoiding it for recent, frequent, and higher value donors (for whom it isn’t just ineffective, but actually seems to backfire) –  the architects of the study were able to increase donations overall by as much as 11%.

The lesson is clear: Just as powerful expressions of gratitude can improve a donor’s disposition towards a non-profit, mixing in an ask or a CTA (call to action) can poison that disposition with feelings of resentment.


Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Call Me Maybe (But I’d Rather You Didn’t)

If you were to ask Millennials or Gen Z (defined as those born between 1980 and the early 2010’s) how they feel about receiving phone calls, they would likely rank the experience as one of the biggest inconveniences you can thrust upon someone.

It’s a notable difference between generations, one that I especially notice with my father, who calls me several times during the day with small pieces of information that could easily be delivered over text – and while he sees calling me up to communicate verbally as a quicker, more efficient method, I see it as an interruption. I’m forced to drop everything I’m doing in order to talk to him for a couple of minutes, whereas my fingers could have rattled off a response to whatever question he had in a matter of seconds.


From my father’s perspective, verbally asking me or telling me whatever he needs to is faster, but in reality, the two versions of the conversation play out as follows:


Text Conversation:


Dad: “Garbage day today. Bring down your bin.”

Me: “Np”


Phone Call:


Dad: “Hey, what’s happening? what’s shaking? what’s going on?”

Me: “Not much, how about you?”

Dad: “Not much, uhhhh I just wanted to remind you that today’s garbage day”

Me: “Ok, alright”

Dad: “So make sure you bring down whatever you’ve got in your room, any wrappers, bottles, that sort of thing”

Me: “Yeah, no problem, sounds good”

Dad: “Ok, cool, uhh… oh, I finally finished season 3 of-”

And so on and so forth.

While I don’t by any means mind having full conversations, in a world where we’re constantly multitasking and juggling multiple conversations at once, phone calls are seen as inconveniences for the younger generations, as they force everything else to be put on hold. For the generations that grew up without email and instant messaging, communicating verbally is what they know best. It is significantly easier for them to articulate themselves verbally. This is especially true for those who aren’t as acclimatized to the small keyboards on most smartphones, or those who have trouble seeing the screen in front of them to begin with.


Of course, these are generalizations that don’t necessarily apply to everyone, but I believe that it speaks more to those who did grow up with technology – the difference between the two conversation examples I gave above lies in efficiency.

Imagine that your phone rang, and when you answered it, all you heard was “get milk on the way home,” followed by the click of someone hanging up. It would be jarring, and you’d probably feel it was a bit rude. That kind of bluntness is acceptable in today’s culture of quick, back-and-forth texting, and it’s the necessity of those pleasantries on the phone that often makes phone calls feel so taxing for today’s youth, and leads to them avoiding them at all costs.



As a matter of fact, a new survey from BankMyCell indicates that not only are millennials ignoring phone calls, but their reasons are often related to time consumption, or avoiding confrontation and interaction with people such as telemarketers. Millennials usually ignore unknown numbers altogether


So the question becomes, in a world where phone calls are seen as an interruption, and immediately put the person on the receiving end in a negative mood, how does one reach clients in a unique and effective way? With all the notifications coming through on our phones and laptops- whether from iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or our emails – messages from unknown parties get lost in the shuffle. Unless you’re attempting to get in contact with a personal friend, you might find it a bit more difficult to reach them than you’d initially think.


While mail is a great and effective way to reach the younger generation, not just any mail will do. Speaking from personal experience, when I see a grey envelope with my name showing through the thin strip of plastic, I immediately assume it’s some useless (other otherwise boring) information from my bank. However seeing a white envelope with my name and address scribbled across the front in pen gets me excited. Mail, for me? What a pleasant surprise – is there an event? Am I being invited somewhere? It’s not the contents of the message, but how they’re delivered. You could send me the same information over email, in a printed beige envelope, or as a handwritten letter, but only for the last of those will I be excited to see what’s inside.


This is because technology has moved past the need for letters, allowing us to communicate with others across the world in an instant. This makes letters as we know them scarce, as society pivots into the digital age. These advances in technology, however, have been unable to replicate arguably the most important aspect of handwritten letters: intimacy. A letter is an indication of importance – why take the time to write something down by hand that could be typed out in a matter of seconds with a keyboard? Why take the time to have it go through a post office, when the internet can transmit your message and a response back in an instant? Because handwritten letters mean something, and when social interaction has become so easy to the point of tediousness, sometimes it’s better to take a step back and reach your clients with something more authentic.. Not only will your clients be enthused to open their mail -significantly more so than opening an email – but they will be able to process the information without the burden of being forced to give an immediate answer over the phone.


Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.