Are you guilty of sending all your donors the same appeal and thank you letters? In these letters, you never thank a donor for their past support or acknowledge they’re a monthly donor.
If that’s not bad enough, many of these letters use vague and impersonal language and even worse, jargon.
You can do better, and frankly, you have to do better. Generic communication isn’t going to help you keep your donors.
Move away from anything generic and create something more personal. Here’s how.
Segment your donors
Your donors aren’t the same, so they shouldn’t all get the same letter. 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.
I emphasize segmenting your donors a lot in my posts because it’s so important. Donors like it if you recognize their past giving or anything that emphasizes this is more than a generic, one-size-fits-all message.
And while we’re on the subject of personalization, 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.
I know 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 are more likely to give again, possibly at a higher amount.
Use language your donors understand
If you use vague, generic language and jargon, you’re going to instantly bore and/or confuse your donors. 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.
Connect with your donors by using 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? Is housing too expensive? Get specific, but at the same time, keep it simple.
A great way to move away from generic language and jargon is to tell stories. Most people respond better to a human-interest story than a bunch of boring statistics.
On the road to improvement
You may be between fundraising campaigns right now and have a little more time. If so, start segmenting the donors in your database, if you haven’t already done that. 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. If you can do this after every campaign, you should have pretty up-to-date information on your donors.
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.
Move away from your generic communication with something that shows your donors how much you appreciate them by recognizing who they are and giving them engaging content they’ll relate to.