The subtitle for this month’s roundtable could be “Building Stronger Relationships with Your Donors,” because your communications strategy is a critical piece of donor relationship development. To maximize your communications for the greatest impact, you need a plan in place to ensure you have consistent messaging, are communicating regularly with all constituents, and that you’re using a cohesive multi-channel approach. To do that well, you really need an up-to-date communications plan.

Getting Started
Whether you’re developing your first communications plan or preparing to update it for the coming year, here are some of the key pieces you should be including:

• Mapping your constituents – think through all the different groups or “personas” your organization interacts with. Your communications plan should include how and when you’re communicating with each of these groups. Make sure you’re not over-communicating with some while not communicating enough with others. You should also develop a messaging hierarchy to determine how to communicate with people in more than one group, like board members that are also donors.
• Develop a messaging matrix – identify the key messages you want to share over the year and which ones are most relevant to different constituent groups. In communications that are seen by everyone, like social media content, make sure you are featuring each of those messages regularly. In segmented communications, choose the message that is most pertinent to that constituent group.
• Ensure balance and look for gaps – make sure that you have an even mix of communications that inform, ask, and thank each major constituent group throughout the year. Make sure you’re regularly communicating across all available channels – hard copy/mail, digital communications, and social media content.

Making Your Plan Work for You
Once you have a good system in place for tracking your donor communications, make sure you are using the plan to help you reach your annual goals. If donor acquisition is a major focus, you might more heavily leverage social media and digital communications to identify new prospects and get them more engaged with the organization. If you’re looking at increasing donor retention, you might add in additional stewardship or other non-ask touchpoints. You can also use your communications plan to get board members more involved in fund development – writing personal notes on appeals or thank you letters is a great way for board members to plug in. Share the plan with them at board meetings or one-on-one once or twice a year so they can identify where they can help.

The key is to start by just getting your communications plan written down – then evaluate what worked well and where new strategies are needed when you update it every year. Kennari has tools that can help you get started or to develop a different tool that will better meet your organization’s needs. Reach out to learn more about how we can help you build stronger relationships with your donors through well-planned communications!