After the Acquisition
That’s a shame. Of course, your budget might make this a necessity. But still, you can overcome it.
Assign a seasoned staff member — or hire outside help — to periodically audit follow-up communications. (And yes, you should test. But you know that anyway.)
Tip No. 2: Make sense
The late direct-marketing legend Joan Throckmorton called it “the underlying law of creativity.” And it holds true for advertisers and nonprofits alike.
In her wonderful book, “Winning Direct Response Advertising,” Throckmorton wrote, “Whatever you say, however you say it … first ask, ‘Does this make sense to the customer?’” (And donors are, of course, your customers.)
An example: About four weeks after I sent my first donation to one charity, I received the typical — and personally dreaded — thank-you/please note. Near the bottom, I read this:
“I trust that you will find the enclosed literature informative and hope that you’ll become a member of the AnyName Charity today!”
I reread it, utterly confused. I double-checked the name of the charity, thinking I’d missed something. They hope I’ll become a member?
Wait a minute! I thought I just did. This sentence left me wondering if I needed to send even more money to become an “official” member.
Take-away tip: Ask questions when reading your follow-up communications. Is anything unclear? Are you bewildered? If the answer is yes to either one, you can bet that your donors will be baffled, too.
Tip No. 3: Use a ‘house’ style guide
If you rely on staff outside your department to communicate with donors and members, borrow a tip from The Stanford Fund for Undergraduate Education: Create and distribute a style guide. With the help of a style guide, students write — by hand — wildly successful thank-you notes for The Stanford Fund, which also relies on proofreaders to review each note. Here’s one example of what might end up in your nonprofit’s style guide: