Lagom is a Swedish concept meaning everything in moderation or not too much, not too little. Keeping things simple. This is not to be confused with the Danish concept of Hygge, which means getting cozy. Not surprisingly there isn’t an English translation of these terms, even though they are much needed in our overstressed world.
The term lagom can be used in almost any context – the home, relationships, work, etc.
You can bring this concept of simplicity and balance into your nonprofit communications, too. Here’s how.
How much communication is too much
Most likely you’re not communicating enough. Communication is a year-round effort that includes asking, thanking, sharing updates, and engaging your donors.
Of course, asking is part of the picture and you can send appeals throughout the year, but only after you’ve thanked and engaged your donors.
You’ll notice at the end of the year you’re barraged with fundraising appeals. Then at other times of the year you might receive a scant newsletter or update. Donors often complain that nonprofits ask too much, but how often do you hear complaints about being overthanked?
You need to be thanking your donors and sharing updates every one to two weeks – once a month at the very least.
Donors shouldn’t think you’re communicating too much if you aren’t just asking for money and you keep your messages donor-centered.
Stick to one call to action
Your communication needs to be clear. Before you send an email or letter, ask what is your intention? Is it to ask for a donation, say thank you, invite someone to an event, or recruit volunteers?
Stick to one call to action. If you ask for a donation, recruit volunteers, and ask someone to contact their elected officials all in the same message, it’s likely your donor won’t respond to any of your requests.
In your fundraising appeals, don’t bury your ask. Start with a story, followed by a clear, polite ask. Recognize your reader. Thank previous donors and invite potential donors to be a part of your family of donors.
Your thank you letter should thank the donor. Simple, right? Make them feel good about giving to your organization. Welcome new donors and welcome back returning donors. You don’t need a lot of wordy text explaining what your organization does.
Keep your messages simple, yet sincere, and include a clear call to action.
Choose the right length
If your communication is too long, people won’t read it. Limit written communication, such as newsletters and annual reports, to four pages or less. Your email messages should be just a few paragraphs. On the other hand, you don’t want to be terse or say too little.
“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Mark Twain
Be sure to make your communication easy to read and scan by including lots of white space. Don’t clutter up the page.
Make it understandable
Write at a sixth to eighth-grade level. That’s what most major newspapers do. This is not dumbing down. You’re being smart by ensuring your donors will understand you.
Last week I wrote one of my periodic rants against jargon, which you should definitely avoid. Deconstructing Your Jargon Use the active voice and don’t get fancy by using a lot of SAT vocabulary words. Again, you want your donors to understand you.
Keep it simple by using conversational language.
Create a clutter-free website
Your website is still a place where people will go to get information. Make sure it’s clear and clutter-free, as well as easy to read and navigate.
Two components of your website that need simplicity and balance are your donation page and your thank you landing page.
Your donation page needs to be easy to use and collect enough information without overwhelming your donors. If it’s a branded page (e.g. not a third-party site like PayPal), make sure it’s consistent with your messaging and look. Don’t go too minimalistic, though. Include a short description of how a donor’s gift will help you make a difference, as well as an engaging photo.
Speaking of minimalistic, most thank you landing pages go bare bones and look more like store receipts. Here you have to step it up with a prominent Thank You or You’re Amazing! Include a photo or better yet, a thank you video.
It’s not always easy to keep things simple and balanced, but your donors will appreciate it if you do. The Complexity of Simplicity