Over the years I’ve come to find the value of keeping things simple. Whether it’s preparing a dish with just a few ingredients or not cramming my schedule with one thing after another.
But keeping it simple doesn’t have to mean a bare bones existence. There’s a Swedish term called lagom (there are also several books about it) meaning everything in moderation or not too much, not too little. It’s definitely a concept I agree with and it’s much needed in our society of too much, too much.
Keeping things simple is also important for your nonprofit communication. Donors are busy and are receiving an abundance of messages from a variety of sources.
You don’t want to get bogged down with a bunch of complex content. Here are a few ways to simplify your communication.
Keep it simple by sticking to one call to action
Your communication needs to be clear. Before you send an email message 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, try to recruit volunteers, and invite someone to an event all in the same message, it’s likely your donors 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.
Keep it simple with shorter, easy to read messages
If your communication is too long, most people won’t read it. Limit print 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 your communication is easy to read and scan. Use short paragraphs, especially for electronic communication, and include lots of white space. Don’t clutter up the page.
Keep it simple by using conversational language
There’s nothing worse than reading an appeal letter or newsletter article that sounds like a Ph.D. thesis. 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.
Keep out the jargon and other confusing language. Use the active voice and there’s no need to get fancy by using a lot of SAT vocabulary words. Again, you want your donors to understand you.
Keep it simple by creating 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. Don’t forget about short paragraphs and lots of white space.
One of the most important parts of your website is your donation page. It needs to be easy to use and collect enough information without overwhelming your donors. If it’s too cumbersome, they may give up and leave.
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.
It’s not always easy to keep things simple, but your donors will appreciate it if you do. Read on for more about the importance of keeping things simple.