Have you ever been at a party and got stuck talking to someone who went on and on…about themselves? Or perhaps there’s that friend or family member who never asks how you are, or what you’ve been up to. It’s always “me, me, me” or “I, I, I.” (I refer to these types of conversations as “me-versations.”)
Or what about the coworker who routinely hogs all the credit? The one-man show no one wants to work with.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like either of these situations. I mean, it doesn’t always need to be about me…
But sometimes it’s nice if it’s about me.
Tell your donors what they want to hear
There’s a saying in fundraising: Tell you donors what they want to hear, not what you want them to know.
Donors want to know about the difference they made in your organization. They want to know what you did with their money. They want to know you appreciate their financial sacrifice.
“The deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated,” said William James, one of the most influential thinkers of the late 19th century, and labeled the “Father of American psychology.”
Who’s getting the kudos: you or your donors?
One of the easiest ways to let your donors know you appreciate them (and what a difference they’re making)…is to tell them!
Yet, far too many non-profits unintentionally take the credit their donors deserve. They do this by using the pronouns I, me, we, us and our WAY too often.
Consider the following excerpt from a sample fundraising appeal (red added for illustrative purposes only)…
Last year, through the success of our ”No Child Goes Hungry” campaign, we were able to provide enough meals to feed XXX,000 hungry children worldwide. Our goal this year is to feed TWICE that many children! To do this, we’ll need to raise $XX,000. This is an audacious goal and we can’t do it alone. Please send a gift as soon as possible to help us meet this goal. Hungry children are counting on us!
In this example, it’s pretty clear to see who “the star” is: the organization.
Organization-focused communications marginalize the role of the donor — or worse, leave them out altogether.
According to Jeff Brooks (author of The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications and blogger extraordinaire,“‘We’ statements invite no response. They have nothing to do with your donor, so there’s little chance of stirring her to action.”
The difference “YOU” can make
Consider a donor-focused version of this same message:
Last year, YOU made such a difference in the lives of hungry children around the world. Through your generous support of our 2015 “No Child Goes Hungry” campaign, you helped provide enough meals to feed XXX,000 hungry children worldwide! This year you have the opportunity to help feed TWICE that many children! Your gift today will help provide the $XX,000 needed to reach this audacious goal. Will you please send as generous of a gift as you’re able today? Your support will make such a difference.
Donor-centered communications put the spotlight on the donor.
“Don’t ever miss out on the opportunity to credit donors for the good work your organization does,” says Brooks. “When you make a ‘you’ statement, you hit the ball over to the donor’s side of the court. You invite him to hit it back in response.”
TWO (only two!) SIMPLE STEPS to donor-centered communications
Your donors are generous, caring, compassionate people who give sacrificially to make the world a better place. Make sure they know YOU recognize this!
- Stop using the pronouns I, me, we, us and our. Use you (and any of its forms: your, you’re, yours, yourself, you’ll…) early and as often as possible.
- Stop portraying your organization as the hero (“We did this!”). Make your donor the hero (“YOU did this!”).
Do YOU pass the “you” test?
Here’s an easy way to see how donor-centered YOUR communications are. Take out a copy of your last appeal, newsletter or annual report (or print out the homepage from your website). Each time the word “you” appears, highlight it.
- Your appeal letter should have “you” in the first or second sentence, the last sentence, the P.S., and liberally sprinkled through the rest of the copy (10 to 20 occurrences is about right for a 2-page appeal letter).
- Your newsletter or annual report should have “you” in the headlines, the subheads, the captions, in the offer and sprinkled throughout the articles.
- Your homepage should have “you” in the banners, the headlines and in the clickable teasers (“You can learn more here”).