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A successful nonprofit is constantly identifying and connecting to new leaders. Last post we talked about how to identify potential new leaders. In this post we talk about using communication to engage.

Organizations identify and segment donors using information received from the donor as well as from research. Some information, like the value of the donor’s house, how old he is, etc. can be found online or bought from various private sources. Other information comes from the donor himself.

Engaging potential new donors and volunteers requires a communication plan that includes diverse communication beyond a donation request. Many nonprofits worry potential donors will consider their communication excessive and annoying rather than engaging. People don’t mind receiving communication when it is valuable to them and well labeled. Smart organizations ask potential donors how they want the organization to communicate with them and what they are interested in. Once the organization knows the donor’s preferences, the communication plan provides the information in the manner the donor requested.

When a person is added to the database, the first communication should be “welcome”. The welcome should contain information about the organization’s work, why it is important to donate, and opportunities to get involved.  It should also contain links to the organization’s website and social media channels.

Effective communication is regular and well labeled using the subject line to help donors distinguish the nature of the message. All messages should be short and contain key information. Messages should direct readers to the organization’s website and social media for more information. All communication must contain information on how to opt out.  Don’t forget to read reply email messages on a regular basis to make sure records are updated promptly.

One of the best ways to gather opinions is to conduct a poll. The poll should contain two or three simple questions with five to six multiple choice answers (for example strongly agree to strongly disagree). In the last question, ask them how they would like to receive communication showing the results of the poll. Finally, ask people to forward the poll on to others that might be interested. After they respond to the poll, send them a message thanking them for participating and letting them know when they should expect to receive the poll results. At the promised time, send them the results in the method they requested.

Since many volunteers and donors are reading messages on their mobile devices, messages should be short and adaptable to any device. According to a recent interview of Doug Plank of MobileCause at http://www.blueavocado.org/content/text-generation-leaders-using-mobile-phones-nonprofit-outreach, 40% of people see your website for the first time on a phone and 30% read emails on their phones.

More and phone numbers are mobile and mobile phone numbers are good for texting as well as calling.  Like many younger leaders, more and more nonprofits are using texting to communicate. Texting is an art since a single text is only 140 characters. Overall texts should not be more than 200 characters. Texting works for simple messages that direct readers to social media or websites for more information.

Once leaders are engaged it is essential to weave in a donation request, after all leaders do not become donors unless they are asked.

Nonprofits like businesses continue to use social media to identify interested leaders/customers.  We will discuss the continued growth of social in our next post.

 

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