Nonprofit Donor Friendly Communication

Nonprofit Donor Friendly Communication

August 11, 2016 Lynette Garet Fundraising 0 Comment

Nonprofit Giving: 5 tips for Donor-friendly Language


Have you ever sat in a classroom and heard some bright spark say, “I find the esoteric influences of the post-classical, neo-theological mainstream media to be indicative of the … blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,”? Did your eyes roll back in your head as your chin dropped to your chest? Or did you wake your classmates with loud snores? Yeah, me too. So why would you do that to your donors? Try these tips for more donor-friendly language.


Be personal

Your written material needs to be conversational, as if you were talking to a donor instead of writing them. Compare the two thank-you notes below; which would you rather receive?


“Joe, I really appreciate your $25 donation. Your contribution will buy a week’s worth of food for a family of five in Appalachia.”


“Thank you for your contribution to Acme NPO’s campaign to the Feed the Hungry in Appalachia.”


Be educational

Tell potential donors about your mission without lecturing. Ask yourself and your supporters to explain your NPO’s work as simply and clearly as they can, without jargon and drama. Then, develop an elevator pitch that comes to the point quickly; you have only seconds to capture attention.


Acme NPO strives to teach poor families in the Appalachian Mountains ways to grow healthy and wholesome food with limited resources.


Be compelling

Remember our pontificating friend in my opening paragraph: The only compunction he inspires is to throttle him into silence. As you talk to potential donors, show them the urgency of your cause. Illustrate the situation with descriptive text, bold headlines and captivating images.


Meat of any kind for the Smiths’ evening meal is a rarity. Most nights, a biscuit with drippings staves off the family’s hunger … for a while.


Be sensitive

Avoid stereotypes and any phrases that remotely hint of the “ists”—racist, ageist, sexist. This is particularly tricky because the accepted vocabulary changes according to time and culture. Try to describe a real, individual person instead of a generic anywoman.


The Smith family’s grandmother lost her sight to cataracts when she was 83 but her fingers still guide her knitting needles in the long-familiar patterns.


Be direct

If you don’t ask, your donors cannot say no. If you don’t ask, you will not receive. Be clear about what you want from potential donors and supporters.


Feed the hungry in Appalachia

As little as $10 a month will provide an Appalachian family with:

  • Vegetable seed
  • A simple drip irrigation system
  • Basic farming tools: hoe, rake, shovel



Bottom line?


Don’t beat around the bush; ask for what you want, clearly and simply. Engage your audience and help them see and feel the immediacy of your work. Be personal, educational, compelling, sensitive and direct.


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