Frightfully Good Fundraising, Part 2: Don’t Get Wrapped Up In Yourself

Knowledge

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Okay, let’s chat for a second. You do great work. Your nonprofit makes an incalculable difference in your community. And you, the fundraiser, are what keeps it running! You pour your time and effort into ensuring all your programs are funded. You eat, sleep, and breathe your mission—and it shows!

Because you’re so heavily involved in your nonprofit, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is as wrapped up in it as you are. Being committed to your mission is necessary. But don’t get wrapped up in yourself when talking to donors! If you do, your communications will come off as stiff, dusty, and dry.

Avoid boring your donors to death! Instead, take a few minutes to sit back, unwind, and brush up on these habits to avoid:

Assuming Everyone Knows Exactly What You Do

Your donor gave to you, so they must be familiar with your story and mission, right?

Not so fast!

Unless you introduce your organization and its mission in every appeal, there’s a very real chance that a portion of your donors aren’t familiar with you and your work. They may have donated to a singular campaign instead of to your organization as a whole. Maybe they donated to a peer-to-peer participant despite being unfamiliar with your work. Or they could have gotten tickets to an event without knowing your mission. However they got to you, it’s important to remember that they may have only a rudimentary understanding of your nonprofit.

When someone isn’t very familiar with you, they’ll find some aspects of communication confusing. That means that elements like:

  • References to past campaigns
  • Industry jargon associated with your mission
  • Talking about past events or milestones
  • Mentions of peoples’ names or positions

and other elements won’t make sense to your readers.

Make sure everyone is up-to-speed on your mission, your story, and the problems they can help you solve by:

  • Setting up a “welcome series” for new donors
  • Intentionally scheduling follow-up notes, emails, or calls for new donors
  • Offering donors opportunities to learn more about your work

When you’re immersed in your nonprofit and its work all the time, it’s easy to forget that others aren’t as well-versed as you are. Get people up to speed!

Assuming Nobody Knows Exactly What You Do

On the other hand, don’t fall into the trap of assuming nobody knows what you do. Trying to acquaint everyone with who you are and what you do in every email is awkward and repetitive. That’s why we’re such huge fans of the welcome series for new donors! You get them educated about your mission, then you move on.

Imagine introducing yourself to your best friend every time you met up. “Hi, Sarah!” you’d say. “I’m Abby! We’ve been friends since we were in middle school!”

It’d be super weird.

Restating your mission in every donor communication is boring. Reintroducing your nonprofit every time is dull. Get donors caught up on what they need to know, then approach communication with them as a conversation.

Only Talking about Yourself

Every nonprofit falls into this trap on occasion! When you write your donor communications, remember this: donors don’t give to organizations. They give to causes. They support you because they think you’re the best way to make a difference in the world.

Remembering that donors give to your work and not to you can hurt a little bit. Your organization is awesome! But donors are more concerned with the work you do than with anything else.

Avoid getting too wrapped up in talking about your organization. Topics like leadership retreats, budget updates, and people giving you giant checks shouldn’t be front and center in any communication—they’re nice, but they’re not mission-focused!

Instead, tell your donors how their involvement is changing the world. How many families did they help feed last month? Were they able to raise the money needed to repair that local man’s home? How many pets were adopted because of the huge program they helped fund?

That material should be front and center. Show them the problems they helped solve! Make them feel great about helping! Find the problem they helped solve. Show them how they helped solve it. Tell them about it.

And that’s a wrap!

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