Donors Are Different — But Some Things Never Change
I want to understand
A few years ago, I moved to the West Coast from the Midwest. I felt like I had to learn a new language. I no longer bought pop at the store; it was soda. Traffic jams weren’t the result of gapers' blocks; they were caused by looky-loos. I almost resorted to checking in the bookstore for a dictionary of local lingo.
Your donors and prospects don’t want to have to use a glossary of acronyms or resort to grammatically diagramming a sentence to understand what you want them to know. Make sure someone who doesn’t know your organization at all can tell you what the main message of your communication is.
Repeat after me: 'I am not the target audience'
When I teach fundraising writing, every session begins with the class saying in unison, “I am not the target audience.” Even if you are the typical gender, age group and demographic of your audience, you aren’t the target. Simply by being an employee of, volunteer at or consultant to your nonprofit, you know far more than your target audience does.
This isn’t an argument for dumbing down your copy. But remember who you are writing to, and make sure every word communicates to that person — not just to your senior management.
I used to visualize my Great-Aunt Mary when I was a 20-something writing to the typical donor to my nonprofit. Now that I am closer in age to the “typical” donor, I still think about someone who isn’t me and ask, “How will this communicate to her?”
Because I must never forget, “I am not the target audience …”
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.