Which One Wins: Reminding or Informing Your Donors?

Today’s post is a simple reminder about the power of reminders.

You might be tempted to always market something NEW and LATEST AND GREATEST. After all, doesn’t everyone want the hottest ideas? Doesn’t new information grab attention? Don’t we have to keep it fresh to keep donors interested and motivated?


Stick with me. I’m going to spend this blog post encouraging you to spend time reminding donors of what they already know.

An Experiment with Street Signs

Let’s start with a simple exercise that will take 15 seconds. Review the two sets of street signs below:

Set 1:

Set 2:

How do you feel as you look at these?

Set 1 was likely a breeze. These are familiar signs that you see regularly. Even the colors mean something to you (red means stop!). Your brain had very little processing to do because it was just a reminder of ideas it processes all the time.

Set 2 likely caused you to pause. What does “soft shoulder” mean? Why is that one orange? What are the two suns doing at the top of that sign? This set was informing you of something less familiar. You had to review the picture and think about it.

When we give donors new information, like with Set 2, they have to process and consider it. New information slows them down. It challenges them.

When we confirm and reiterate ideas, like with Set 1, donors feel competent and confident. They feel smart.

A Nonprofit Example

Let’s do the same experiment with more familiar phrasing. Pretend that Stelter is a nonprofit and you’re one of our planned giving prospects. We’re going to reach out to you to support our marketing mission. We have two possible sets of language:

Set 1 (reminding) sounds like:

“You know how important it is to keep your brand top of mind.”


“Thank you for reading our weekly blog and being part of our community!”

Set 2 (informing) might sound like:

“We are changing our colors to neon orange and green.”


“Last month we produced 300 new marketing campaigns!”

Again, Set 1 is low-lift and confirms ideas that you, donor, already agree with. Set 2 is new information and increases the work you have to do. As a result, you may not finish the material.

Important note: It’s appropriate to do some informing in the scope of an appeal. Especially if you have timely or urgent information or an interesting story that confirms their feelings about your organization. Information moves us forward. Better yet: Use your urgency language across a few appeals, transforming it from new information into a reminder.

Confirm What Donors Already Know

We have information coming at us all day. Information overload leads to cognitive overload (and brain fog). With too much information, decision-making becomes harder. There’s simply more to wade through.

It’s better to keep reminding donors of the essentials:

  • Why donors are vital
  • Who donors can help
  • How donors can contribute

Before presenting new information, ask yourself if the donor will care. Statistics, in particular, rarely pass this test (did you care that Stelter had 300 new marketing campaigns in our example?).  

Instead, it would be more powerful to remind the donor of those things that first brought them to you. Confirm the things that already resonate, such as moving impact stories, quotes from donors like them and the way they feel when they’re with your brand.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Reminding is repetition. Direct mail taught everyone the “rule of seven.” On average, a consumer must see or hear a message seven times before they will take action. The rule of seven depends on repetition and consistency, which in turn builds trust and brings results.

Companies that focus on reminding understand that they must continuously battle to stay top-of-mind. The relevant supporting data is out there: Companies that excel at reminding generate 50% more leads.

So don’t forget.

Keep reminding your donors that they are important. You like them. They like you.

Keep reminding them of your mission, how your organization helps and how vital they are to the cause.

Friendly reminders can go a long way.

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