(Part one of a two part series on stellar nonprofit donor communications.)
Helping Nonprofits Flip the Script with Donor Communications
The purpose of this series on is to move help you claim your most important audience, your donors. To do that, especially in your web materials, it is essential to move past the repeated claims “aren’t we great!” and invest in the simple message “aren’t you great!” Often, most evident in website copy is the nonprofit’s desire for the donor. Please donate. Less common is a recognition of what the donor might be seeking from the nonprofit.
And what might that be if we were to look beyond information about organizational programming. I’ll argue that donors respond to mission, and what they seek engagement with the mission in their lives, even if they never set foot near a project site or attend an event. Donors want to experience the values of your mission in their lives. And that can be accomplished in many ways beyond always explaining what you do.
Before we explore strategies for engaging donors directly, let’s address two necessary elements in your donor communications regardless of strategy. They are authenticity and gratitude.
Authenticity is key
Nonprofits seldom struggle to communicate a passion for mission. The purpose of the work gives both context and energy for all that is undertaken. A place where we can miss the mark, but remains essential for authenticity, is accuracy in messaging. Therefore, it is vitally important that you do not make claims that cannot be backed up with data. In fact, I would argue it is best to let the data speak for itself. Instead of claiming to be the fastest growing NGO in your sector, tell the facts of your growth narrative. Let the data be a lead character in your story.
Audit the authenticity of your content with these simple two questions. Is the emotional passion for the mission evident? Is data backing up all our claims?
Gratitude isn’t only for after a gift
There’s a beautiful saying, “I’ve already won the lottery simply by the fact of being alive.” Does that spirit of gratitude radiate from your donor communications? Certainly not only after you receive a gift. Gratitude is more than saying “thank you.” Gratitude is an emotional posture that can permeate all our actions, and in this case, all communications crafted for your donors. Certainly not only in the acknowledgment letter sent after you receive a gift.
To recap: recognize your supporters desire to be engaged with the values of our mission. Root your communications in authenticity and gratitude. Together, these qualities develop a foundation to implement an engaging donor communication strategy. A strategy that can yield results that will exceed beyond expectations.
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