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Why Your Audience is Smarter than Your Executive Director

When it comes to asking for money, your audience has point of view is most valuable. That may seem like an obvious assumption, but don’t underestimate the power of the institutional point of view. Whether it’s your ED or your board president, insiders often think they know best, when in fact the audience point of view can lead to results.

It can be scary to challenge institutional thinking. But it’s the only way to achieve a donor-centered communications program that generates donor-dollar growth.

So how does a nonprofit properly go about putting its readers or audience first?

1. Ask about their vision, passion and motivation

Donors give because they see a clear vision for their gifts to make a difference. They feel fulfilled by the idea that their money is making a difference. They view themselves as problem-solvers when challenges arise that your non-profit can address. They want to preserve the ideals of your organization for the future. Ask them about these feelings and motivations. Ask them why they part with their hard-earned dollars to advance your cause. Then use this information to craft messages for appeals and stewardship marketing.

2. Pay attention to donor trends

If a donor typically mails in their donations, don’t expect them to switch to online donations right away; keep sending printed appeals, but make the online option available and gradually find ways to make it easier and more worthwhile. If making donations online is the preferred way of contributing over a donor’s history, save the postage and send emails or texts alerts asking them to visit a donation page. Tailoring donation asks is important; not only does it saves wasted resources, it shows sincerity and that you’re paying attention to your donors. Sending out mass emails with no segmentation (especially to those that may not use email often) lacks the personal connection that motivates giving.

3. Be accountable

Once a donor is invested in your cause, don’t leave them behind in search of new donors. Follow up with donors with updates, like newsletters, social media content and emails. Show them how their gift makes an impact and thank them for their contribution.

Think you’re checking all the right boxes in putting your donor first? Let’s perform a little exercise.

Take a look at your last potential donor communication. How many times do you use the word “you” vs. the name of your organization? Is it all about “me, me, me” or “us, us, us”? What benefit do you provide to the reader?

Need help reframing your story from the point of view of your donors? Contact us.