November 10, 2008

Fundraising Messages that Work!

In recent years, the non-profit sector has given donors every reason to doubt the financial accountability and stewards of charitable organizations. Fraud at the CEO level to front line workers stealing money from the donation call centers after hurricane Katrina – donors are weary and cautious about giving money to charity.

A recent Harris Interactive DonorPulse Survey found that 32% of American adults have less than positive feelings towards charities. Only 1-in-10 strongly agrees that charitable organizations are honest and ethical in their use of donated funds. (Now combine this data with a struggling economy, weak housing market, and high cost of living!)

To retain existing donors (and acquire new ones), charitable organizations need to change the way they communicate. Here are four tips to help your organization speak in “visible” terms as you seek to connect with donors during this challenging time economic time.

1. Inventory the ways (email, text, documents, fax, phone, etc.) your staff, volunteers, clients, board members, and donors communicate.

2. Develop a standard for communicating your charity’s mission when communicating to internal and external stakeholders.

3. Be prepared to tell those who will listen, who you are, what you do, how you do it, and where it’s being done.

4. Use the “you test.” Use a red pen to circle the number of times you use some form of the word “you” in your communications. If your message is full of “you” words, you are connecting with the reader on a personal level. If not, change your language from internal focus to external donor and mission focus.

Conclusion; It’s important for those representing your charity to speak in clear, visible, concise terms that are framed with mission and outcome (your charitable story) concepts. Clear “messages” will help you keep the donors you have, while attracting new ones.

[posted by Jim Shapiro. We help organization's craft fundraising messages that work. Let us help you too -]

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