Welcoming Submissions for Penelope Burk’s Donor-Centered Communications Project

Two critical points of contact determine whether donors stay loyal or quickly abandon your cause after giving only once or twice. First, a great thank you letter (timely and original) reassures your supporters that they just gave to the right cause. Second, a compelling post-gift communication (not an ask, but an update), makes donors want to give again.

According to donors, It’s the information you send them before asking them to give again that  makes them want to renew their support and, when it’s really satisfying, to give more generously. That’s why donors say that the communication is the ask and why it’s so worth the effort to craft amazing post-gift updates.

Over the years I have seen stewardship reports that take your breath away, so I know that fundraisers already understand the importance of communicating with their top tier donors. But all donors need information to inspire them to keep giving and thanks to modern-day technology, communication can be direct, compelling and inexpensive.

I have been blown away by the quality of thank you letters submitted over four editions of our Donor-Centered Thank You Letters Project and now I’m reaching out to my fundraising colleagues for your best example(s) of concise communications updates to donors (maximum one page in length). I will compile a variety of submissions into a resource and send you a complimentary copy if yours is included. Of course, names of not-for-profits, their personnel and their donors will be removed beforehand.

Donor-Centered Fundraising, second edition, Chapter 9, describes how focused, concise and compelling communications make donors sit up and take notice. Here are three recommendations for crafting winning communications to help inspire your creativity:

  • Be concise. Brevity is your #1 ally because your donor’s day is in full swing when your communication arrives in the mail or the inbox. Open and read rates improve when you don’t try to communicate too much at once. The best communications are as short as fifteen words (plus a link) and seldom longer than a page.
  • Don’t ask. Appeals are calls to action, but when you’re communicating progress to your donors, an ask overpowers everything else you are trying to say.
  • Feature results. There are lots of things you can tell your donors, but what they want to know, above all else, is how their gifts are helping you achieve measurable results. If you showcase your progress, your donors will want to know even more of your story.

Please submit your communications sample(s) to Kristen Hazell at by October 15th. For more information and FAQs visit: 

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