Content that Builds Your Organization’s Narrative and Donor Relationships

narrative and donor relationships

At this point, it may be safe to say that we know the value of content for our organization’s fundraising program. Content – especially for annual giving donors – helps us build relationships by thanking, stewarding, and cultivating donors. It’s content that does the legwork when we can’t make personal contact with every donor. It’s also content that helps to build and support our organization’s narrative.

Narrative is made up of a constellation of stories, messages, and other communications that represent and reinforce a key message. As I wrote in a previous post, there’s strategic value in thinking about narrative in that it allows your organization to create a clear and cohesive experience for donors. This means that we think about touch points together and in relationship to the narrative they are building over time. There’s real value in doing this.  

Organizations that build strong, clear narratives tend to have robust donor communities who truly get the value of the organization’s work. Think about UNICEF USA Fund or Girl Scouts of the USA. Part of the reason they are household names is because we understand who they are and what they stand for. They are nothing if not consistent.

Focusing in on narrative in fundraising programs, the messaging most often relates to why giving and donors make a difference. In the tradition of donor-centered fundraising, this can be a good strategy. It reminds donors of the important role they play, and connects them to their impact.

So how can we ensure that we actually produce content that achieves a consistent narrative and in turn supports relationship building?

We can start by auditing our donor content. Gather up content that you’ve sent to your donors in the last six months. This could include thank you letters, reports, newsletters, and so on. You may also want to include some social media posts as Penelope Burk’s most recent research show that 80% of donors follow at least one non-profit on social media, which is a major increase for 43% in 2011.

  • Identify the key message for each piece.
  • Are there themes in the stories or information you’re sharing?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how donor-centered is the content?
  • What mediums did you use to share content? Is there any chance a segment of your donors may not have seen it?
  • Thinking about all the pieces you reviewed, is there are clear, consistent narrative coming to light?

Next, we can turn to our data to try to understand if our content is having any impact on relationship building. Here are a few questions you can consider.  

  • Once a donor received content, how soon after did the donor make a gift?
  • Over time, have you seen lifts (or increases) in giving as a result of your content?
  • Do you receive anecdotal feedback from donors who like your content?

Some of these answers can be obtained through reports in your database. Others can be obtained through donor surveys. Either way, it’s valuable data that will help you assess the effectiveness of your content.

If this article has given you some food for thought, consider joining Bloomerang and I for a free webinar on April 25th that will go into this topic further – Donor Stewardship that Tells a Story.

Are you ready to give your donors the content they deserve? You’ll find a worksheet here you can use as a template to build out your own donor-centered content marketing.

Vanessa Chase
Vanessa Chase is President of TheStorytellingNonprofit.com and co-founder of Stewardship School. Her goal is to help nonprofits connect in more meaningful ways with donors through stories and stewardship. She works with nonprofits throughout North America—including BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, Union Gospel Mission, and Cancer Care Connection—and is an internationally recognized speaker. Vanessa is also the Board Chair of Women Against Violence Against Women.
Vanessa Chase
By |2019-04-02T11:08:43-04:00April 3rd, 2019|Donor Communications, Donor Engagement, Storytelling|

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