Time to Reinforce Your Fundraising Foundation?
It may be a new way of communicating for your organization, but it’s essential. Much of our fundraising is about conversations. Letters are conversations in print. Banners and billboards at events provide visual “proof” that your work is making a difference. Major-donor proposals speak to the heart as well as make an intellectual case. It’s time to get back to “show and tell.”
2. Avoid acronyms
If I’ve learned one thing in my nonprofit career, it’s that acronyms are rampant. In fact, I used one (CFC) earlier. MED, USAID, UNHCR, NPO, WFP, NGOs — these mean something to many in the nonprofit world, but they often only confuse average individuals.
Do your donors a favor and talk in a nice, normal language that they can understand. “We provide food to people who are hungry” makes sense; “we alleviate chronic malnutrition through our food distribution emphasis partially funded by the FFP office of USAID” just loses something (at least to me).
Run terms that are as familiar to you as your name past people who aren’t in “the industry.” Do they communicate or just leave them confused?
3. Never assume
This one is related to No. 2. We get so used to what we do and where we do it that sometimes we forget that some people aren’t quite as “informed” as we are. Years ago, I showed up for my first day at an international relief and development organization. I learned that we did work in Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. Cool!
The only problem was, I had no idea where these countries were. When I took my last geography class, Burkina Faso was the Republic of Upper Volta. I was pretty sure Mail was a South Pacific island and certain Senegal was in Asia.
I quickly learned about these three countries and many others, but I never forgot — what seems like a no-brainer to us can leave a donor totally confused. And confused donors often stop being donors. Easy-to-grasp maps and explanations can help educate donors without making them feel too stupid to be part of your organization.
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 email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.