Make It Matter
According to the recently released Giving USA, there are now more than a million nonprofit organizations operating in the United States. This increased competition means today's donors are being bombarded — and our messages are becoming lost in a sea of appeals from other charities. By making your communications more relevant, you can cut through this current — and straight to the heart of your donor.
Talk about what the public thinks is important.
Communication pieces should play to the strength of the organization as the public perceives it, provided that view is accurate and truthful. Many organizations serve wide, varied groups of people but successfully focus on a particularly compelling area of their work in communicating with the general and donating public. Special Olympics is a prime example of this positioning. Although SOI services those with disabilities at every age, it focuses its communications and "story telling" on its games because it is so much a part of its image and such a compelling reason to support and get involved with the organization.
Listen when the donor tells you what she values about your organization.
If your donor has told you she has an interest in a particular area of your work, you can make your work more relevant by drawing her into that area more deeply. This interest can be implied through her response to certain appeals or programs or come directly from the donor. For instance, if your donor wants to know about the work you are doing to preserve the Alaskan wildlife and has told you so in a survey or inbound phone call, personalize as many of your communications with her as possible to illustrate that you know her and are working on what she thinks is important.
You have a story — tell it.
"Making a difference" language not only demonstrates the need your organization addresses but conveys to donors what will happen if you are not there to help. These phrases can build your case for support quickly and concisely when combined with information about how you compare to other organizations and how your work is different from what they do. Using this approach in your communications with your donor is an excellent way to reinforce the idea that her investment in your organization was a wise one and will pave the way for increased commitment or more frequent support.
Kristin McCurry is a principle in MINDset direct, a practice dedicated to guiding nonprofit organizations in identifying, understanding and influencing the dynamics of donor groups in order to drive higher value relationships. She can be reached at 703-485-9242.