The Power of Connection: 7 Ways to Forge Stronger Donor Relationships for Your Non-Profit

Multicolored, abstract, connected lines with pins symbolizing strong donor relationships.

Alicia is in leadership with a non-profit organization.

She’s passionate about the organization’s mission, and they’re making an impact on their community. Alicia is keenly aware that this isn’t a “one-woman show” — the non-profit’s donor base is the backbone of the organization.



Alicia struggles with keeping donors informed and connected. She wants to strengthen these important relationships, but it’s (very) challenging with all that’s on her plate. 

And without ongoing connection, these donor relationships (and their contributions) tend to fade away.

How can Alicia communicate effectively and strengthen relationships with donors? 

Building Amazing Relationships (With Communication)

The success of any non-profit organization is built on strong donor relationships. Leaders like Alicia usually want to communicate clearly and consistently but have limited time and energy.

If you’re like Alicia, you want frequent, authentic, two-way communication with supporters using strategies that resonate with your donor base. And you need the efforts to be worth your time and energy!

Here are seven ideas to forge that deep connection through communication.

1. Help Supporters Feel Connected With Your Organization Through Social Media

She has all the right connections for strong donor relationships.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are powerful tools for non-profit organizations to build strong donor relationships. People connect with voices, faces, and seeing your organization — and photos and videos can help donors feel like the family that they are. Social media provides a platform for your organization to share updates, stories, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of your work. It can also be used to showcase donors, thank them for their contributions, and encourage them to get involved with the organization’s events and initiatives.

Here are some ways you might use social media to create emotional connections with your supporters:

  • Host a Virtual Tour
    • Using Instagram Reel, Zoom, Facebook Live, or another platform, you can walk through your facilities and give a “back-stage” glimpse into programs. This not only provides donors with an immersive experience and showcases the impact of their contributions, it creates a sense of transparency and belonging.
  • Send Personalized Video Messages
    • You can use personalized video messages to thank donors for their contributions, provide updates about the non-profit’s work, and encourage supporter involvement (as well as deepen donor relationships).
  • Host a Live Q&A Session
    • In this digital age, there are MANY platforms you can use to host a live question-and-answer session. Facebook Live, Zoom, YouTube Live, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams are just a few examples.
    • Hosting a live Q&A is a great way for donors to engage with your organization, get updates, and ask questions about your work. A session like this can foster a sense of community, improve donor relationships, and provide a platform for feedback.
  • Host Virtual Events
    • In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual events have exploded in popularity. Virtual events can be used to share updates, showcase programs, and provide donors with a platform to ask questions and provide feedback. You might even include links to Amazon or Walmart wish lists as a way to engage electronically! A virtual event could also be a meaningful way to recognize donors’ contributions and achievements.

However, an occasional Facebook (or other social media) post can’t be your only communication medium!

Social media sites don’t collect donor information and aren’t usually effective tools for follow-up. But regular social media posts keep your organization and mission visible to supporters and provide donors with an easy way to interact with your content.

A best practice for effective connection is to use multiple forms of communication.

2. Use email for on-going communication

Children of the ‘80s and ‘90s rejoice! Although email is “old-school,” it remains a powerful tool for regular, personalized communication. 

Do you have (an organized) email list? Do you use it actively? If not, you could be missing out on a way to deepen donor relationships!

  • Newsletters can be used to keep supporters informed about your organization’s latest news, upcoming events, and impact on the community. You can also use these emails to share stories and testimonials from the people your non-profit serves.
  • Thank-you emails can show donors how their donations are being used. A personalized thank-you on a birthday, anniversary, etc. is an easy way (with a big impact) to strengthen donor relationships.
  • Personalized invitations are ways to invite your supporters to events and outreach efforts. These emails can be further personalized based on a supporter’s interests or involvement in the organization.
  • Advocacy alert emails can be used to inform and mobilize supporters to take action on important issues — and strengthen donor relationships.
  • Email surveys are an easy way to gather feedback from supporters and help them feel involved and take ownership in your non-profit. Surveys can help you understand supporters’ interests, preferences, and opinions, which can help you customize communication and fundraising strategies in the future.

3. Share meaningful stories with supporters through a podcast

Podcasts are popular ways to connect with audiences and can be an innovative way for your organization to engage with supporters. Through a podcast, you can share your mission, celebrate success stories, and provide information about upcoming events. You can also invite guest speakers (or even donors!) to share their expertise on relevant topics. 

4. Engage with donors through interactive digital content

Interactive digital content such as games, quizzes, surveys, polls, and infographics can be an engaging way to communicate with supporters.

This interactive content is a way to educate donors about your organization’s work, share success stories, and inspire action. Interactive digital content can increase the frequency of communication with your donors through regular updates — and deepen donor relationships by creating memorable experiences and connections to the organization’s mission.

Not tech-savvy? A fractional marketing company like 8 SIGNAL can help your organization create and manage digital content.

5. Help supporters see their influence through personalized impact reports

Donor fatigue is a real issue for many non-profit organizations. Supporters value knowing how their funds are being used for a real-world impact. A personalized impact report might include stories, photos, or even personalized videos from people who have directly benefited from a donor’s contributions. 

And transparency about your organization’s finances, programs, successes, and challenges is a HUGE factor for connected, invested donor relationships.

6. Get old-fashioned with a call, letter, or coffee date

It’s a digital world, but there’s really not a more effective way to connect than a call, handwritten letter, coffee meeting, or text. And especially in a digital world, this direct connection is a powerful way to strengthen donor relationships.

  • Say thank you (a lot!)! A prompt “thank you” in the form of a call or note after a donation shows that you value a donor’s support and appreciate their contribution to the organization’s mission.
  • Pray for them (and ask them to pray for you!). For faith-based non-profits, prayer is arguably the MOST important tool for the success of your mission. Letting your donors know how they can pray (and updating them about the results) involves them in the greater work of your organization. And it’s important to find out how you can pray for them as well!

7. Make a plan for consistent communication with your donor base — and start connecting!

Is all of this overwhelming? 

I’m *pretty sure* the answer is yes — you can be honest!

Using innovative strategies for engaging your donor base, developing a protocol for implementing these ideas, and forging strong donor relationships won’t happen overnight.

But consistency most often happens in baby steps! 

  • Decide on a protocol for communication, and do it consistently. How often do you want to connect? Twice a month? Once a week?
  • Designate a team member to communicate with each donor and build a relationship.
  • Look at ways to spread out the workload so it isn’t contingent on one person! Non-profit CEOs are often creative types and might benefit from administrative “donor development” assistance.

If you need help connecting with your donor base, consider 8 SIGNAL’s marketing services! Our team of experts can help you engage with supporters by developing databases, setting up online platforms for interaction, and implementing innovative strategies to connect. 

Business people putting their hands together for strong donor relationships.

Best Practices for a Powerful Impact

At 8 SIGNAL, we specialize in helping non-profit organizations impact their communities. We’d love to use our expertise to help you build deep relationships with your donors, improve your communication, and influence the world for the better. Find out more about our services in our FAQ blog.