How many times have you received an appeal or thank you letter that never mentions your past giving or that you’re a monthly donor? All you get is a generic, one-size-fits-all letter that doesn’t acknowledge who you are. Chances are most of the other donors of that organization are getting the exact same letter.
This happens way too often and it’s a problem. Your donors aren’t the same, so they shouldn’t all get the same letter. Another problem is these letters continue with the generic theme by using vague language and even worse – jargon.
Break free from your generic communication and create something more personal. Here’s how.
Segment your donors
Segment your donors into different groups as much as you can. At the very least, create different letters for new donors, repeat donors, and monthly donors. You can also personalize letters to lapsed donors, event attendees, volunteers, etc.
Thank your donors for their previous gifts and/or upgrades. Speaking of upgrades, many organizations don’t ask donors to increase their gifts because they’re sending everyone the same, generic letter. If you don’t ask, you most likely won’t receive. One reason (among many) to segment your donors is it can help you raise more money.
You can craft an appeal like this – Thank you so much for your donation of $50 last year. Could you help us out a little more this time with a gift of $75 or even $100? This way we can help more homeless families find housing.
Also, giving donors the amount of their last gift helps them out. Donors are busy and give to other organizations besides yours. They may not remember what they’ve given before.
Although, even if you ask for an upgrade, it may not happen if you ignore your donors or only blast them with appeals. You need to practice good donor relations, too.
And let’s stop sending Dear Friend letters, as well. You’re not being a good friend if you don’t even use your donors’ names.
Yes, this will take more time, but it’s worth the investment. So is a good database to help you with this. Your donors will feel appreciated and may give you more money.
Generic language is uninspiring and confusing
If you’re bombarding your donors with vague, generic language or jargon, you’re going to bore and/or confuse them pretty quickly. Most of your donors don’t have a medical or social services background. They don’t use terms like food insecurity, at-risk populations, and underserved communities and neither should you.
Use language they’ll understand. Instead of talking about food insecurity, give an example of a family choosing between buying groceries and paying the heating bill. What you mean by at-risk or underserved? Are high school students less likely to graduate on time? Do residents of a certain community not have good health care nearby? Get specific, but at the same time, keep it simple.
Another way to burst past generic language and jargon is to tell stories. Most people respond better to a human-interest story than a bunch of boring statistics.
How you can do better
You may be between fundraising campaigns right now and have a little more time (or maybe not). If so, now is a good time to start segmenting your donors in your database, if you haven’t already done that. Also, segmenting your donors isn’t a one-time deal. Make changes if you need to. For example, some of your single-gift donors may have upgraded to monthly.
In addition, dust off those templates and freshen up your appeal letters and thank you letters. Create letter templates for different donor groups and replace your vague, generic language with something clear, conversational, and specific.
Have someone outside your organization, a friend or family member, look at your messages. Something that’s clear to you may mean nothing to others.
Take time to break free from your generic communication with something that will show your donors how much you appreciate them by recognizing who they are and giving them content they can relate to.