Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Keeping it fresh

When was the last time you took stock of every touchpoint you had with your supporters?

Sean Triner wrote a really good blog today about how in many ways not much has changed in fundraising over the past 120 years. Namely, long letters still work, much like they did for Dr Barnardo's in the 19th century.

That is true. And I'm very much an advocate of doing things that works. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

But what I do see too often is stale communications. Ask yourself, does this communication advance the relationship with your supporters? Does it cut through the clutter?

I ask because I see lots of stuff that is downright dull. Crusty and old.

So, enough of the ranting. Here is some 'meat to the bones'. I'd suggest you:

1 Make a habit of critiquing every piece of literature that reaches your supporters. By that I mean appeals, newsletters, telephone scripts, e-communications, thank you letters, welcome packs. By 'habit' I mean at least twice a year.

2 When you analyze each of these pieces, do the following:

- Read it aloud, preferably to someone else. Does it sound like something you would actually say or does it sound like an advert for health insurance?

- Get someone else (who isn't intimately involved in the fundraising program) to critique them. You'd be amazed at how much can creep into your materials that doesn't make any sense or just doesn't sound right. Health warning: you're not looking for someone to mess with your fundraising, like suggest you take out all asks. You're wanting someone to see if what you're saying makes sense.

3 Look around you. There are a vast array of really good and very relevant supporter communications out there. Specifically look at the way other organization's communicate with their donors (online, offline, via the phone). Look out for materials that are simplistic and easy to understand.

4 Strip out as many references to you . It isn't about you. It's about your wonderful donors and those people/animals/environment they generously support. Spend most of your time talking about the latter.

5 When you think you've done all of this, repeat steps 1 through 4 one more time.

This may not be the most fun or sexiest part of your job. But it helps to ensure:

- That you're not stale
- That you're communicating with donors, not at them
- That you care enough to tell it as it, right now


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