Strength Training for Fundraisers
Most of the time donors can't be where our work is, to see for themselves the good work our organizations do. So we fundraisers need to be able to take them there in words and pictures, to paint images of our work so successfully in their minds that it's like the donors are almost there in person, experiencing it for themselves.
7. I'd make sure we only send effective, imaginative communications
The problem with most nonprofit communications is that they are dull. Given the abundance of colorful, dramatic, human-interest material with which nonprofits are blessed, this is a shocking admission. Yet sadly it's true. Fundraisers are prolific producers of printed and electronic communications, but the bulk of it is either tedious, vacuous, fit only for the rubbish bin or all three. Common weaknesses include too many words, limited skills in designing for readability and overemphasis on what the organization wants to say rather than on what the reader wants to read. If you think this is a little harsh, send off for the newsletters or annual reports of, say, 20 other prominent nonprofits and see if I'm wrong.
You can't write effectively without also seeing the reader, in your mind's eye at least. Communications is a bit like kissing. It takes two to do it properly. You should only send communications that help ensure your supporters:
✔ are entirely comfortable;
✔ will grow in their trust and confidence in you and your nonprofit organization;
✔ actually look forward to hearing from you;
✔ only hear about issues and subjects that truly interest them;
✔ give when you ask;
✔ feel they are benefiting from the relationship too.
It's important that fundraisers become more self-critical of what they produce so they only send creative and effective communications, that they save the money currently being wasted on inappropriate and poorly constructed publications by not sending them, thus avoiding inflicting unhelpful, unwelcome materials on our dear donors. To that end: