Do Your Donors Love You?

5 tips to help them feel emotionally connected to your mission for better results.

Just because a donor is still on your file, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re feeling an emotional connection with your cause. In fact, sending even a monthly donor a receipt could be all the impetus they need to realize how much they’ve donated – and especially during the Covid crisis – potentially remind them that they need to tighten their belt. Here are 5 easy tips to give you your best shot at keeping your donors giving – and even giving more – to help you raise more money during these uncertain times.

1. Story is Job One: The number one thing that connects your donor to your mission is whether or not they relate to, and feel affinity for, the beneficiaries of your good work. Telling a rich, emotive, first person story in a compelling, consistent way – from the subject line of an email or a teaser on the outside of an envelope right through the rest of the communication – is the difference between an effective fundraising campaign that helps to connect donors emotionally to the work you’re doing… and one from your bank.

2. Consistency is King: Your brand assets (reflected in the brand guidelines I hope you have) aren’t confined to just your logo and fonts. Your brand toolbox should also contain rules around tone, image use, colour palette, and messaging direction. Most of all, the brand guidelines should communicate the philosophy behind your organization’s brand so that anyone working for you (from your receptionist and other staff, to board members and volunteers, to front line service people and agency partners) all sing from the same song sheet. That philosophy is the thread that connects all of your fundraising communications together thematically. If a fundraising communication looks, sounds or is different from campaign to campaign, your donor can lose trust that you’re a credible organization. And as a result, you’re forced to rebuild that trust with them (not to mention recognition and affinity) every time you communicate with them.

3. It’s All About You: Take a look at your website, your collateral and fundraising communications. Count how many times you say “We” – as in “We provide emergency medical humanitarian aid to vulnerable populations in dangerous places around the world.” Great. That’s what you do. What role does your donor play in that equation? Compare that to…”You make it possible for women, children, and men fighting for their lives to receive the medical care they need…when they need it most. You do that by supporting Organization X.”

4. The Eyes Have It: Human faces tell a story. Eyes looking straight ahead and meeting the viewer/reader/donor connects them to each other in powerful ways. You cannot avert your eyes. You see their humanity. You feel yours. There’s no replacement for that. (Animals faces tell a story, too, for the record.) Make sure your communications show faces – and remember, imagery must be treated in a consistent way across communications and across your brand landscape (Seep Tip 2).

5. The Eyes Have It (Part 2): Take all of your printed material – direct mail, collateral, print ads…heck, print out your website home page. If you do Outdoor, print off a photo of your billboards and bus shelter ads. Anything you can print, take it and layout it out on your floor in a collage. Then, with your eyes, standing above it all, scan everything and decide for yourself how consistent, how recognizable as your organization, everything is. Are the colours consistent? Are the images all treated in the same way? Is your logo following the rules? And then get down on your knees and start reading everything. Does it all sound like it’s coming from the same voice – the same organization. I’ve left the best tip for last – and it’s the best, because this is where you should start. Do Tip 5 first. This is really a macro view of how you’re doing from a brand perspective. Then, go micro. Get down on your knees, pick each piece up and read it. Really read each component and determine in your own mind if you’re achieving steps one through four.

In five easy steps, you’re going to know exactly how you’re doing and whether you’re giving your donors reasons to love you – and more importantly perhaps – whether you’re giving prospective donors a reason to come on board.

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