Donor Communications: It’s Not About You. Really.

Can you recall a time when you met someone and all they did was talk about themselves?  It’s always a bit frustrating.  You give them the benefit of the doubt thinking surely they will move the conversation in another direction, or ask a question of someone else, but that doesn’t always happen. As a nonprofit organization it can be easy to talk about yourself too much and fall into this same bad habit as you craft communication to your donors.  While it is important to talk about who you are and the needs you have, keeping the donor at the center of the story is key.

Below is a very simple way to check your donor communication pieces to see if your “yous” are on target (don’t worry, it will make sense in a minute):

Count the “Yous”

Author, Tom Ahern takes this scenario and applies it to donor communication and reminds nonprofits that it’s not all about you.  When communicating with your donors review your communication piece before sending and count the number of times you used “you” and it’s variations (you’d, you’ll, you’re, your, yours, and you’ve).

“You” pulls your readers in with a much more personal tone.  Here are two comparative examples where one is lacking the “you voice.”  You can feel the difference, can’t you?

Example One:

Dear Mallory:

Here at the Mission, with a donation of just $15.00, we can provide 6 warm meals to those in need.   We believe that everyone has value and worth. Food as an essential need and we believe no one should go hungry.  Will you partner with us?

You-Count: 1

Example Two:

Dear Mallory:

Ever had a day so busy you forgot to eat lunch?  Your body is quick to remind you that you need energy as your head gets foggy and you begin to get tired.  So you grab your your lunch or go grab a bite to eat with friends or family.  Your day moves ahead without skipping a beat.

As you know, food isn’t always available for everyone. Many in our community are in need and hungry.  For just $15.00 a month you can make sure that 6 people in our community have a warm healthy meal.  Will you join us?

You-Count: 12


Count Them: How Do You Stack-Up?

Take a moment to review your last three pieces of donor communication and see how the “yous” stack-up.  This approach of simply counting the number of “yous” is a quick and easy way to make sure your communication is inclusive and directed to your donors in a strong voice that is sure to resonate with them.