Updated: Jun 16, 2021
January is a great time to show your supporters the much-deserved love and appreciation for continuing to support your cause.
There is so much you do and so much you could say. What are the key things to consider when planning your supporter communications? How do you keep your supporters engaged and excited to continue supporting your cause?
Firstly, having just ended the year, you should take this opportunity to report on the impact your supporters' generous donations have made and how you would not be able to continue this work without them. Your impact update should come in a form of stories and key figures.
Secondly, you can never thank your supporters enough. At the time of overwhelming uncertainty, shower your supporters with attention, show them just how much they mean to you (and let's be real for a minute here, you would not be able to carry out the work you do if it wasn't for their donations).
Post some personal handwritten notes
There is nothing more heartwarming than to receive a handwritten personal note from a director of a charity you support saying how much you mean to them. These notes do not have to be branded. What they have to be is personal and coming from the heart. If you have any photos of your work, you can attach these to the note.
Share the impact
Even if you're a small charity with limited resources, you can easily put together beautiful looking impact reports using Canva. These reports do not have to be very long, in fact, a 3-4 page report detailing key achievement and maintaining a good balance of numerical impact and stories of change would be ideal.
If you can, personalise these reports or at least write a tailored message when sharing these reports with your supporters via email. For supporters interested in a particular project, talk about how their contribution has benefitted your beneficiaries in the past year. Mention that they can "read more about it on page x".
Inspire with a vision for the coming year
Understanding the impact your gift can make is important but what really inspires donors to give is the vision behind the work. People don't give to organisations, people give to people. Knowing how much the charity has grown or "pivoted" and well you have "responded to the challenges" is nice to have but at the core of your message is your WHY. Why do you do what you do and how your supporters can make the world a better place.
Talk about your vision for the coming year. Talk about the work that you do is some important, who it's important to and why. Talk about why now.
At the centre of your vision is your donor changing change happen by supporting your work, not the charity carrying out the work. Focus on the WHO and WHY, not the HOW.
Fewer statistics, more stories
Think about everything that happened in 2020. What are the most memorable moments? I am pretty sure there are not the statistics but the stories. Stories of people whose lives have been affected, stories of those who are showing their bravery and commitment taking a stand for what they think is right. Stories are what keeps us going. They are what gives us hope.
Share more stories and avoid too much detail, long "backgrounds" and "contexts". The real stories of need, of change, of the human spirit and of hope is what will inspire your supporters to continue giving.
Timely updates and honesty are important
I will repeat myself once again: your supporters are at the core of your work. They are the people who enable you to carry out the life-changing work you do as a charity. When things happen, they need to know.
Find the medium what works best for you but make sure that your active supporters know what their money is helping achieve and be as open and honest as you can if things are not going the way you have planned. I can promise you, your supporters will understand. In fact, some of your supporters are likely to appreciate your honesty so much to lean in even more and give extra donations to keep you going.