I recently received a newsletter from an organization that focused mainly on themselves, then their clients, and then barely mentioned their donors. There’s no question this organization does good work, but their newsletter failed the donor-centered test. Unfortunately, they’re not the only guilty culprits.
The term donor-centered is pretty self-explanatory. It means focusing on your donors’ needs and interests, acknowledging them in your letters and other communication, and taking into account that not all donors are the same.
Can your organization pass the donor-centered test? Take a few minutes to find out.
- Are your fundraising appeals focused too much on your organization – rambling on about how great you are? Your organization may be great, but let your donors figure that out. Your donors are the ones who are great, and they want to hear how they can help you make a difference for the people/community you serve.
- Are your appeals segmented to the appropriate audience? Thank past donors or reference your relationship to a potential donor. Maybe they’re event attendees, volunteers, or friends of board members.
- Are your appeals addressed to a person and not Dear Friend?
- Are your appeals vague, impersonal, and filled with jargon your donors won’t understand? Don’t say we’re helping underserved members of the community. A donor-centered appeal would say something like – With your support, we can help low-income families find affordable housing.
- Do your appeals make people feel good about donating to your organization?
Thank you letters
- Do your thank you letters come across as transactional and resemble a receipt? Yes, you need to acknowledge the donation is tax deductible, etc, but most donors are more concerned about how their gift made a difference.
- Do your thank you letters (or better yet, a handwritten note) shower your donors with love? Start your letter with You’re amazing or Thanks to You!, and not On behalf of X organization.
- Are you telling your donors the impact of their gift? For example – Thanks to your generous donation of $50, a local family can get a box of groceries at the Southside Community Food Bank.
- Do you recognize each donor? Is this the first time someone has donated? If someone donated before, did she increase her gift? Acknowledge this in your letter/note.
- Do your newsletters sound self-promotional and focus on all the wonderful things your organization is doing instead of showing your donors how they’re helping you make a difference?
- Is your newsletter written in the second person? Write to the donor and use the word you more often than we. How to Perform the “You” Test for Donor-Centered Communications – Do You Pass? BTW, all your donor communication should be written in the second person. It’s much more personal.
- Does your newsletter include success stories, engaging photos, and other content your donors want you to share?
- Are you using the right channels? Perhaps you only send an e-newsletter, but some of your donors prefer print.
- Are you showing gratitude to your donors in your newsletter?
Always think of your donors first
Use these test questions on other donor communication such as annual reports (these are rarely donor-centered), your website, and social media posts.
How did you do?
Be sure the messages you send to your donors focuses on them and makes them feel special. Staying donor-centered can help you build relationships and keep your retention rate from plummeting.
Read on for more information on how to be donor-centered.