Time to Reinforce Your Fundraising Foundation?
4. Forget about length
I hate grant applications that say things like, “Tell us what is great about your organization and your programs (limit: 50 words).” That sucks all the passion out for me. But for individual donors, there are seldom those kinds of restrictions (other than their patience).
This doesn’t mean we can wander around the conversational universe without ever getting to the point. But it does mean that we can inject passion, a vignette, a quote or even an example without worrying that we are exceeding some “assumed” word count.
Will donors and potential donors read a four-page letter or newsletter? What about a monthly email? They will read them — if the message engages both their heads and their hearts. Don’t ramble, but also don’t forget to take the time to inject passion, a great story or even a short (but relevant) jaunt down a rabbit trail.
It can be tough to change your conversation to talk to people instead of institutions. Some colleagues will complain and accuse you of “dumbing down” the great work the organization does. But this old dog has found that it’s essential if you want to reinforce your organization's funding foundation with support from caring men and women. It’s not a matter of “dumbing down” — it’s a matter of speaking the love language of your donors.
By the way, the earthquake last Friday was a 5.1 — not the looming “big one” that gets a lot of coverage on a slow news day, but certainly significant enough to cause damage around the region. But our reinforced foundation passed the test. And with a little work and a willingness to tear down some deeply held convictions about how to communicate, your nonprofit’s foundation can get stronger as you start talking to additional sources of support.
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.