What Your Donors Want to Hear Before Dec. 31
Your donors are going to be bombarded by fundraising messages between now and Dec. 31. On the radio, in the mail, on billboards — the encouragement to "give now before Dec. 31" will be hard to miss. How can your message stand out and result in donations?
Make it about me
Donors want to know that they made a difference. Sure, you have hundreds, even tens of thousands, of donors. But what difference did my gift make? It may not have been the largest you received, but it mattered to me. Did it matter to you? Tell me that because of me, the world looks a bit better.
Keep your conversation short
This is a busy time of year. It's also a time when we focus more on relationships and connecting with friends and family near and far (via the annual family Christmas letter, if nothing else). Talk to me, but get to the point. Think "fireside chat" — you and me, sitting in front of the fireplace, and you start sharing from your heart about the work your nonprofit is doing.
Tell me a story
Facts and figures require time to digest — and time is in short supply. So woo me with a short story. Tell me about one person, one animal, one acre of ground that will have a better New Year because of the work I helped make possible. Make me smile, and leave me thinking about the wonderful news you shared.
Show that I did something positive
Yes, need raises money. But especially at the holiday season, I want to know that things are a little bit brighter somewhere because of my giving. No one wants to drop money time and again into a black hole. Celebrate a small victory, and let me do the same. Report on the big project you were raising money for earlier in the year. But then …
Convince me there is still a need
"Yes, progress has been made in 2011. But there's more to be done in 2012 — and we need you!" That's the message of your fundraising letter, e-mail or other communication. You're gaining momentum, and good things are happening. Now is not the time to cut back on your efforts.
Thank me sincerely (and promptly)
You're going to get a lot more donations than usual in December if you are like the typical nonprofit. When I call in to make a donation, allow time to say a genuine "thank you" before hanging up. Focus on getting receipts out quickly with a short note of appreciation and having a thoughtful thank-you message that is automatically generated after an online gift. You may experience a backlog because of volume, so be prepared with a warm message of appreciation for the donors who call on Jan. 3, wondering where their receipts are so they can finish their taxes.
Yes, talk to your donors in December. But you don't have to scream to get heard over the noise of the season. Approach your donors as one friend talking to another friend, and you'll find many will take time for the symbolic cup of coffee or tea with you because they consider you a friend — and can tell you think of them that way, too.