I suppose we could argue for days about what is the worst abuse a nonprofit could heap upon its donors, and certainly ethical breeches would be right at the top. However, I contend that boring donors to death comes in slightly below that. It's not illegal — but it probably should be.
Are you guilty of this in your fundraising? Have lean staffs, tight budgets and too long of a to-do list made it OK to be less than exciting when you talk to your donors? Here are some of the propagators of boredom I keep seeing in donor communication.
Culprit No. 1: Newsletters that have everything ... but news
Are you telling your donors something they don't already know in your newsletter? Or have you fallen prey to filling pages with filler? You know what I mean — lists of donors giving memorial gifts in eight-point type, updates that repeat what you've already said instead of providing new results or letters from donors that have been edited to sound like paid advertisements.
Instead, report on the project you were raising money for last quarter. Did you meet the goal? If not, can they still support it? What was the outcome of the event you promoted or the program you launched for those you serve? Make sure there is plenty of "I didn't know that!" news if you expect your donors to look forward to your updates.
Culprit No. 2: Websites that are tragically out of date
"Click here to learn more about our event!" So I do — and you're inviting me to register for an event that was six months ago. Or the last blog post on your site was a year (or more) ago. Photos aren't changing, so I wonder if you're still in business.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.