One of the first posts I wrote when I started this blog was the 4 C’s of Good Content (clear, concise, conversational, and compelling). I decided to revisit that post and add a 5th C (connection). I gave it a new title, too.
Keep these 5 C’s in mind when you’re writing a fundraising appeal, thank you letter, update, or any type of donor communication.
Is it Clear?
What is your intention? What message are you sending to your donors? Are you asking for a donation, thanking them, or sharing an update?
Whatever it is, make sure your message is clear. If you have a call to action, that needs to be clear as well. You want your message to produce results. Plain and simple, your fundraising appeal should entice someone to donate. Your thank you letter should thank your donors (no bragging or explaining what your organization does) and make them feel good about donating.
Use language your donors will understand (no jargon). Keep out terms like food insecurity and underserved communities. Just because something is clear to you, doesn’t mean it will be clear to others.
Is it Concise?
Can you say more with less? Eliminate any unnecessary adverbs, adjectives, and filler. Get to the point right away. Concise writing doesn’t mean you need to be terse or all your print communication has to be one page. Sometimes it will need to be longer, but the same rules apply.
Keep in mind that many donors won’t read something if it looks like it will be too long. That’s especially true now when we’re dealing with more information than we can take in.
Also, most people skim, so use short paragraphs and lots of white space, especially for electronic communication.
Make all your words count.
Is it Conversational?
Write as if you’re having a conversation with a friend and be personable. Use the second person – where you refer to your donors as you and your organization as we. Remember to use you much more than we.
Avoid using jargon, cliches, multi-syllable words, and the dreaded passive voice. Is that the way you talk to your friends?
You may think you’re impressing your donors by using jargon and big words, but most likely you’re confusing them or even worse, alienating them.
Is it Compelling?
Is whatever you’re writing going to capture someone’s attention right away and keep them interested? Start with a good opening sentence. Leading with a question is often good. Stories are also great.
Put a human face on your stories and keep statistics to a minimum. Start a fundraising appeal with a story that leads to a call to action.
Are you establishing a connection?
Donors are drawn to your organization because they feel a connection to your cause. You also need to establish a connection with them. You can start by segmenting your donors by different types, such as new donors, current donors, and monthly donors.
Get to know your donors better and give them content you know they’ll be interested in. Hint – it’s not bragging about your organization. They want to know how they’re helping you make a difference for the people/community you serve. They also want to feel appreciated.
Keep these 5 C’s in mind to help ensure good communication with your donors.