Chicago Sun-Times journalist Sydney J. Harris keenly observed that “the two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.” Doing just that is harder than ever, given that it’s no longer about pushing out information to people who once gave you their undivided attention. Now, you’re competing with all of the content bombarding busy people every day, people whose attention is fragmented and sometimes frayed.
When communicating with donors, the goal is of course to get through, to make an impact and inspire a desired response. Content today needs to educate, inform, and inspire. True, you have information to share, but you want to persuade and motivate, not just impart facts and figures. After all, you are seeking impassioned supporters who will serve as both ambassadors and champions for your cause.
But how do you break through and get beyond just disseminating facts and figures? Here are three sure-fire ways to accomplish that.
#1. Target Your Audience
Donors want you to speak to them, to demonstrate that you know who they are, what they care about, and that they are important to accomplishing the organization’s work and realizing its vision. Whenever possible, segment your fundraising audiences (e.g., by affinity group, behavior, demographics) to ensure you’re communicating what donors want to hear using the channel(s) they prefer. Doing so will help you personalize the message and demonstrate that you understand what’s important to your donors. It will give donors what they need, not just what you want to tell them.
#2. Tell a Great Story
Stories persuade. It’s that simple. We’re much more likely to remember (and share) stories than facts and figures. Nonprofits have access to countless stories to help bring their missions and visions to life—stories of transformation, grit, dedication, community, and success. Making an emotional connection increases not only the likelihood of inspiring someone to make a contribution, but also to step up and champion a cause. Don’t forget that compelling content can be delivered through photos and videos, not just words.
#3. Be Multiplatform & Omnipresent
Today we access information across multiple devices—often at the same time. That means it’s essential to employ a multiplatform communication strategy with donors to increase the likelihood that your message will break through the noise and get noticed. While an email message may work well one time, a well-timed Facebook post might get the attention the next time. Messages need to be tailored for the medium but pushed out across channels to increase the likelihood that you’ll reach your target recipient when he or she is ready to pay attention. In addition, not every medium is right for everything you need to share, so you need to determine the best way to communicate. And remember, while giving donors the information they need at any given time is essential, it doesn’t mean giving them all you’ve got at the same time. Make the content digestible, sharable, and focused.
Getting through means communicating with your donors and stakeholders in ways and at times that are meaningful to them. Do it well and there will be rewards. At BWF, we’re committed to helping you maximize your communications efforts and leverage your resources to achieve your goals and get results.
For more information on how we can assist you with your communications efforts, please contact Carole Arwidson.