Everything we do as fundraisers relies on the power of communications – grant proposals, pitch presentations, annual appeal letters, sponsorship requests, social media campaigns – the list goes on. In fact, many nonprofit organizations have fundraising and communications in the same department or role; the two simply go hand in hand. Having a donor communications plan is an essential part of your organization’s fundraising strategy, and is the key to building strong relationships with donors. If you’re in need of creating or revising your organization’s communications plan, My Philanthropy Team recommends including the following elements:

  • Goals/Objectives – Your organization’s communications goals should be complementary but distinct from its fundraising goal, which is typically defined by a dollar amount to be raised during a given time period. The objectives of your communications plan can focus on advancing three areas: donor awareness, donor knowledge, and donor behavior.
    • Awareness – Gain the attention of potential audiences by sharing what your organization does (mission statement), who it serves, and how it’s different from other organizations (unique value proposition).
    • Knowledge – Share specific information about your organization’s work including fundraising initiatives and priority projects, and how it makes a difference in the community (impact data, client stories).
    • Behavior – Encourage donors to get involved with your organization through specific calls to action (become a volunteer, renew a gift, become a first-time donor, etc.)
  • Key Activities & Timeline – What are the specific communications activities that will be carried out to accomplish your goals and objectives? This includes things like an annual report, year-end appeal, donor stewardship events, monthly newsletters, social media content, and so much more. Create a content calendar to help your organization stay on track throughout the year, or see below for a free, downloadable template.
  • Target Audiences – Who are your organization’s target audiences, or in other words, who makes up your donor base? Ideally, your organization’s communications are tailored to each of your target audiences so that the messages you deliver are more likely to resonate. Target audiences can include groups like parents, alumni, corporations, foundations, and volunteers. They can also be defined by how donors give – monthly donors, online donors, and major donors, to name a few.
  • Communications Channels – What are the channels your organization uses to communicate with stakeholders? This can include your website, social media platforms, email, direct mail, phone/text, and in-person events. Each channel represents a unique opportunity to reach your donors in a different way, and there is plenty of opportunity to flex your creative muscles here!
  • Success Metrics – As with any initiative, it’s important to include metrics of success to gauge whether your efforts made a difference. The ultimate goal of a communications plan might be to drive revenue, but can also include metrics like increasing email open rates, social media engagement, website traffic, monthly gift donations, donor satisfaction, and more.

Now that you have all the essential elements of a nonprofit communications plan, we’ve put together an easy-to-use Content Calendar Template to help you organize your communications activities for the year. To  receive additional resources sign up for My Philanthropy Team’s monthly newsletter. Our monthly newsletter contains helpful knowledge and tips on all aspects of non-profit management.


Need Help? Call My Philanthropy Team! With years of experience and demonstrable success, our experienced consultants are here to help you with everything from high level communications strategy to hands-on implementation. We can create eye-catching and heartwarming content in all formats to help you reach those ambitious fundraising and communications goals. Call us today!

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