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Donors Need to Be Reminded That You Need Them

November 8, 2012 By Pamela Barden
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I remember well the day I realized a fact of life. It was gloomy with a cloudy sky that threatened rain. But that was nothing compared to the gloom that settled over me when I discovered the truth: My donors weren't waking up thinking about my organization, thinking about us all day long and going to sleep with my latest direct-mail ask circulating in their minds.

OK, so it wasn't that dramatic. But the truth is, our donors probably support multiple nonprofits and are approached by many others searching for new donors. Boring them over and over or deciding that we won't mail or e-mail because "we don't want to bother them" gives them a great opportunity to think about other nonprofits and perhaps make their donations to those other (also worthy) groups.

While we shouldn't begrudge the fundraising success of any legitimate charity, it hurts when it takes money away from us. Yet we let weeks, even months, go by without a meaningful conversation with our donors. It's hard to maintain a relationship with someone that you aren't connecting with for months at a time, even with Facebook to help us share the sometimes trivial events of our lives.

As you plan your strategy for 2013, ask yourself these questions:

Question 1: Are our communications interesting to the donor or just to us?
Are you regularly posting blogs — which no one is reading? Are you sending out newsletters — that generate no response? Is your Facebook page generating responses — but only from your employees? If so, you need to ask yourself why no one else is paying attention.

There is no "one size fits all" answer here. Sometimes it's just a matter of inviting people to check out a blog or social-media page, or including your URL prominently on all your mailings. It could be a lack of interest is because what we write or post is simply boring and doesn't make the donor feel proud to be a partner in the work. And sometimes what we send out is just too hard to read.

I received a year-end mailing a few days ago; it was a catalog that offered various program needs for me to help meet by sending a donation. Unfortunately, the copy on all 28 pages was about 9-point type, and it was reversed out of color — including white type reversed out of light mustard yellow. The end result was nearly impossible for a 50-something to read. Lesson: Unless your target audience is in its 20s and 30s, use a minimum of a 12-point type and only reverse out headlines or a short block of copy. The readability factor must be considered above the "great design" factor.

 
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