More than good manners

A resident recently complained in a letter to the local community newspaper of the lack of reporting on the use of funds donated to poverty relief projects. To its credit, this paper regularly features appeals for assistance from NGOs and community-based organisations. The resident observed that he had hardly ever seen coverage of the results of donations, into which he read all kinds of negative meaning. As a regular donor to three non-profit organisations and frequent volunteer at another, I realised that none of these organisations ever bothered to tell me how my contributions had assisted their missions either.

If organisations want to keep donors, they have to keep them and the general public (read, potential donors) informed of their progress and challenges. Sharing information not only makes the donor feel part of the solution, but gives gratification that greatly increases the chance that they will give again.

The objective of a communications strategy should not only be to profile your organisation. A donor is as much your customer as are your beneficiaries. Use your website, newsletters, annual report and social media to say thank you. Showcase the change that their money brought about. If you don’t have many donors, even a simple phone call will do.

Don’t hide behind excuses – everybody lacks budget, resources, staff. Building a sustainable organisation means investing in the tools and activities that build and diversify your donor base. Cultivate your donors, acknowledge their support, give them updates on progress and listen to their feedback. As the letter writer ably put it: As loud as your appeal is, so visible and audible must be the actions and reactions of those receiving.

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