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Ahern 14.19 - What every FRaiser shud know abt donor comms PART 1
Tom Ahern

July, 2014

What every fundraiser should know about donor comms, IMHO

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Want to make more money, thanks to your insanely great donor communications? Here is my short list of surefire "secrets for success".....

 

 

Donor-centricity. You have just one thing to give your donors in exchange for their hard-earned cash: your organization's blazing love.

 

"Donor-centric" comms are different. They loudly trumpet how wonderful donors are ... how important donors are ... how desperately needed, how compassionate, how kind, how blessed and critical donors are.

 

But most nonprofits do not talk this way. Most nonprofits talk about themselves ... which means their communications are doomed to raise a tiny fraction of what they could.

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Understand "tribe." Super-guru Seth Godin wrote the book on Tribes, published in 2008. And in his massively popular blog, he continues to expand on this essential sales idea.

Customers (i.e., donors like you and me) can derive vast emotional gratification from our charity "tribes," if we truly feel we belong.

Recently, Seth pointed out that "effective tribes are built around connection ... commitment ... conversation."

Connection? Donors find causes they share something with: a value, a hope, a fear, a delight, an anger, a grief, a belief, a background, a trauma. They feel sad about something. Pitching in to the cause makes them happier.
  
Commitment? "There's no cliff. This is a mission, a journey, a cultural covenant for the long haul."

Conversation? "The tribe thrives when it talks to itself, not when it merely listens to you shout."
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"How much jargon did I kill today?" Ask yourself that question a lot.

 

Don't explain your mission this way. Does anyone seriously think this kind of language will persuade people to join your merry band of social revolutionaries?

 

I've said it many times: I blame the environmental movement for global warming. They used science to sell a horror story. People are still scratching their heads.

 

The late, sweet, caustic, religiously innovative, and hugely successful UK copywriter, George Smith, instructed, "All fundraising copy should sound like someone talking." Like a conversation. Not like a book report.

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Measure retention. That's the metric that matters.

 

If it steadily climbs and stabilizes at a high average, then your donor communications are working.

 

If it falls or never reaches a high average, then your donor communications are NOT working.

 

How do you measure retention? Here's a simple formula from Roger Craver's brilliant about-to-be published book,Retention Fundraising

 

Step 1: Count the total number of donors who gave in your most recent calendar or fiscal year.

Step 2: Divide the number of donors who made a donation in year 2 by the total in Step 1.

Step 3: Multiply the result from Step 2 by 100 to obtain your retention rate as a percentage.

  

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Final word, slipped on a note under your door:

You really have nothing to lose by changing the way you communicate with your donors. Absent the "secrets to success" listed above, I promise you that your communications are built to fail, not succeed. So, right now, unless you're served by a handful great agencies around the world (ParetoBluefrogAgents of Good,Revolutionise and there are a few others) you are likely now harvesting merely a small fraction of what you could gather from the very same donors you currently solicit. I believe most of the philanthropic fruit is left in the orchard, unpicked. What do you have to lose

Most presumed "donor communications" are smelly diapers. Join the DSOSD society: Don't Send Out Smelly Diapers. Or, in the UK, the DSOSN society.


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