Too often nonprofits take the time crafting a new-fangled way of saying "donate now," and not enough time polishing the context. Here are a few quick tips for building a bridge and engaging with a potential donor before making "the ask":
- Make it about them - not about you. Sending a communication that talks exclusively about your organization and its past/needs/annual report is like going on a first date with someone who hasn't asked you a single question about yourself or commented on what you're doing. People do love to talk about themselves -- this includes your potential donors! Talk to them about relevant news topics, a person in the neighborhood whose predicament is familiar, or help them in some way.
- Create a benefit exchange. Lay out what's in it for the donor. While some nonprofits give gift items like wristbands and t-shirts, recognition counts as a benefit, too. Demonstrate that good feeling (which we call "the helper's high") a donor can receive from taking action.
- Send targeted messages. You need to speak directly to your potential donors and let them know that you understand who they are (or at least that you know something about them). For instance, it's okay to recognize that the economy may be affecting your supporters' giving habits overall. Follow that up with options for staying involved: encourage smaller monthly gifts, discuss upcoming volunteer opportunities and talk about passing along your message with others who would be interested.