You and U, V, W, X, Y and Z
W is for welcoming
Once you've made your website visible to potential and current donors via a search engine, are you welcoming them to your organization? Does your homepage feel comfortable to your typical donor (which may not be you or your Web team)? Is navigation simple for someone who isn't an insider? Is the nomenclature donor-friendly?
And what about your phone system? When a donor calls in, can he or she quickly get to a live person? Or will the donor finally hang up in despair after yelling at the recording? (Or maybe it's just me who does that ...)
Look at every portal where a donor can come in to your organization — online, on the phone, the actual building, etc. Are you welcoming — or confusing?
X is for X-ray
Yeah, this one is a stretch ... so work with me for a minute! I'm not suggesting that you X-ray your donors or your colleagues. But, are you looking below the surface of donor comments via mail, e-mail, phone, social media, etc.?
What does "You send me too much mail" mean — other than the obvious? Is your mail uninteresting? Are you not doing a good job explaining what makes your nonprofit unique? Do social-media comments from donors and prospects show an understanding of your work or more confusion than fact?
Once in a while, if you don't already have that in your job description, answer donor calls and read their letters, e-mails and posts. Are there changes you need to make to be sure you are communicating to the donor, not just to yourself?
Y is for you
No, it's not a breakthrough — but this is essential. You are talking to a single person. It's all about "you, the donor," not "we, the organization" or "me, the executive director." If you aren't opening your copy by engaging your donors, you're likely losing them before they've barely started.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.