5 Ways to Get Personal and Get Relevant
Don’t be shy! Getting personal in your fundraising communications is key to strong relationships with prospects and supporters.
Here’s how to do it, with techniques that are doable for you no matter what’s on your to-do list. A small effort here (and that’s all it takes) makes a huge difference.
Personal is a two-way street
Most nonprofit fundraisers I know consider getting personal as a one-way street. Your organization learns all it can about the folks you want to get to act — donate, attend an event, leave a bequest — and uses those insights to:
- Personalize communications to bond by integrating the first names of your community members in salutations, subject lines and the like.
- Customize communications to increase relevance by segmenting your list (breaking out members by special interest, wants, previous actions, location or any other combination of selections) and using this understanding to deliver content with focus, frequency and tone that fits best with each segment’s profile.
Take it one step further
It’s been proved time and time again that sharing some of oneself speeds relationship building.
Think of a recent conversation you had, personal or professional. When you share something of yourself — an experience related to the topic of conversation or that of a friend or family member — that strengthens your growing bond. Your conversational partner understands you a bit better, feels special that you shared something personal and is much more likely to do the same. That’s how relationships deepen.
Here are some easy ways to put personal to work in your communications:
1. Include your name (or your organization’s spokesperson’s name) in your e-mail “from line” when you send bulk e-mails from your organization. It’s a must for bulk advocacy and fundraising e-mails, and recommended strongly for e-newsletters.
Just take a look at the examples here.
- From: Newark Museum
- From: ChildFund International
- From: Becca Neubardt, Corporate Accountability International
- From: Reeves-Reed Arboretum
- From: Steve Pasierb, The Partnership at Drugfree.org
- From: Amy K. Dacey
- From: Amy Bloustine, The Partnership at Drugfree.org
Which approach draws you in more? Name plus organization is even better than just a name, which just isn’t enough context, (especially if it’s from a celebrity).
It’s always good to know that there’s a human being there on the other end, and this simple change makes your e-mails more recognizable in the daily onslaught.
2. Make your own name more personal in your professional e-mail “from line” — make it Kathy Dempsey rather than Dempsey, Kathy or firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Be yourself in the tone and style of your writing. You want to ensure it’s a person-to-person communication, rather than institution-to-person.
Of course, you have to sound like yourself within the framework of your organization’s voice (make sure that’s clearly defined, shared and practiced organizationwide) for consistency’s sake, but a robust organizational voice enables individual personalities to flourish.
4. Share more of yourself than you currently do, in keeping with the culture of your organization and the preferences of your community. Here are a few ways to do so:
- Include a mention of your passions or family in your professional bio, and make sure your colleagues do the same. (Read more on strong organizational bios here.)
- Feature your photo in your e-mail, letter or Facebook page. You plus beneficiaries, volunteers or donors (with caption) is a refreshing variation.
- When you are at a face-to-face event, introduce yourself (no hovering in the back) and follow up on those brief conversations quickly via e-mail. Let blog readers and Facebook likers know your professional travel schedule and plan a casual get-together (over coffee, perhaps). Face-to-face remains unequaled for strengthening connections.
5. Close your communications with a memorable goodbye, featuring your signature (a low-res graphic is easy to pull into e-mails or letters) and a photo when it makes sense. Test it in an e-mail or two; it’s less of an issue in letters.
Let’s get personal
Take as many of these five steps as you can, as soon as you can, and urge your colleagues to do the same.
If you get pushback from colleagues or leadership, find personal campaigns from organizations competing for the same attention and dollars and show them to the dissenters, along with these examples. This approach tends to work wonders!
Nancy Schwartz is president of Nancy Schwartz & Co. and author of the Getting Attention! blog. She also is a member of the FundRaising Success Editorial Advisory Board. Reach her at email@example.com