When in doubt, keep reaching out! Repetition is a powerful tool for getting through to your donors and convincing them to give.
One fundraising strategy that is often overlooked and underutilized is also deceptively simple: providing donors with ample opportunities to contribute. Many nonprofits fall short when it comes to the frequency of their communications, whether they be emails, texts, phone calls, direct mail, social media, or paid media. Unfortunately, the majority of nonprofits reflexively limit the number of interactions they have with their supporters, and this limitation often reduces desired responses, whether donations or some other form of engagement.
In general marketing, it’s a well-established fact that repetition in messaging is a key driver of engagement. Consider your drive along a major highway. You encounter a multitude of billboards and reminders that a McDonald’s restaurant awaits you at exit 53—but why are there so many? Why not just one or two billboards right before the exit? The reason is clear: marketers understand the importance of planting the seed in your mind long before you reach your destination. By the time you get to exit 53, you’re more likely to take the off ramp because that choice has been reinforced multiple times. And should you cruise past exit 53 without getting off . . . there’s another billboard waiting between exit 53 and 54, encouraging you to pull off at 61.
Repetition is not only effective, but also additive: its impact builds over time. Nonprofit fundraisers often hesitate to reach out to donors frequently because of concerns about being perceived as too pushy, but the reality is that the more you communicate—whether it’s asking, informing, educating, or engaging—the more successful you’ll be. Period.
So, let’s get to the core of the matter: nonprofits need to embrace more frequent direct mail campaigns. Consider the tried and true “Rule of 7,” which states that a potential customer must interact with a brand at least 7 times before they’ll make a purchase.
If that is the case, how often should I communicate with my donors?
Somewhere between 6 and 18 times per year, a donor should receive a direct mail appeal (the latter number is highly dependent on the type and size of the nonprofit). Yes, you read that right—up to 18 times. In addition to direct mail, there should be a robust schedule of email communication (2–3 times per week), occasional phone calls (at least 1–3 times per year, depending on the donor’s level of engagement), handwritten notes of gratitude (again, tailored to the donor’s level of involvement, but between 2 and 4 times per year), and, of course, personalized thank-you letters for every gift.
Lastly, one of the most overlooked aspects of donor behavior is the fact that your most recent donor is often the most likely to respond again. Therefore, it’s crucial never to exclude recent donors from your mailings. In fact, these donors should be prioritized and included in your communication initiatives ahead of others. They are your most loyal supporters, your staunchest advocates, and they eagerly anticipate hearing from you and actively participating with your organization.
In conclusion, it’s essential to review your marketing mix and the frequency of your various tactics. Chances are, you can increase the frequency of your communication efforts and enhance the donor journey and experience, leading to improved retention rates and increased giving frequency.
Don’t underestimate the power of repetition and the impact it can have on fostering lasting relationships with your valued donors.