Monday, 30 April 2012

Do your donors read the annual review?

I’m pretty sure they don’t. Read the annual review that is.

You see, the problem is that so many of our charity communications are grey dull affairs, full of the information we want people to know.

But what do our donors want to know?

Surely the purpose of our publications – appeals, donor newsletters, annual reports, and all of the additional bumf we print and mail – is to engage our supporters in our work.

To engage means to show them:
1.       Why our work is critically important
2.       What we have been able to achieve with their help and generosity

It seems counter intuitive that these publications could be uninspiring. Our stories and our cause are surely the exact opposite. If we were telling a friend about our work we would speak with passion – and it’d be riveting, dare I say inspiring!? But when we write, we tend to use our organisation’s voice, which often leans towards corporate jargon and fundraising spiel.

This does not engage, touch or inspire our donors.

No, if we want our donors to continue giving (this is the point yes?) all of our communications must show them how they have personally made a difference. If they are a £50 donor, telling them about the new building funded by a very generous major donor will not cut it.

Talking about major donors, Niamh wrote last week about how to thank them and said "We must remember that every gift we get from our donors is a down payment on the next." Let us not forget that this is as true for our £50 donors as for our £50k ones. 

They too want to know what their gift has enabled? Why you value them as a supporter? What their support could make possible in the future?

We cannot personally write to every donor, and not everyone should receive a phone-call from the CEO, but we can make sure that our mass-produced donor publications are both relevant and interesting. 

Ask yourself: would I read this? Does it grab my attention immediately? Is the cover headline captivating? Is the tone warm and conversational? Is this about our organisation or about the donors and our cause?

Fill your communications with the passion that drives your organisation and you will produce content your donors might actually want to read.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a donor newsletter to write...  this time with feeling.

If you’ve received or written any particularly engaging donor comms recently, I’d love to hear about them. Contact me on twitter @brownrach or comment below.



PS  If you’re struggling to get your inspiring content signed off by the big guys, take a look at this previous post before you next go to into battle.

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