Monthly Archives: March 2014

Do You Give Your Donors What They Really Want to Know?

They are buzz words. Catch words. The pair of words of the year:

Content Marketing

Non-profit organizations (or not-for-profit, as some organizations are saying) need to learn how to use this concept right now. They need it as much as – or even more than – for-profit businesses.


NPOs thrive on attracting and keeping donors. Nowadays, said donors are researching various causes and charities before donating. They study theirfavorite cause with an eye toward getting the best use out of every dollar they give. If you give the donors what they want, more information rather than only appeals, you’ll see your responses rise.

What is it then?

This explanation, from the Content Marketing Institute, says it best:

Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer [a clearly defined audience] moreintelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty. (From Content Marketing Institute, 2014)

If you substitute “non-profit organizations” for “businesses” you’ll still have the same message. Great content – such as articles, case studies or the like – educates your donors. You know who you want to attract: those who believe in your organization. They are your “clearly defined audience.” Such writing gives them the information they want in order to decide whether to donate to yourorganization or not.

But, we DO educate our donors!

Yes, in a one way, you do. You let them know your mission. About how much your organization helps their favorite cause. About what is still needed. About why they need to give to your organization. You let them know where their dollars are going. What you’re doing with the funds. And you do it with an appeal attached to each letter, newsletter, brochure and piece of email they receive.

Donors want more

Your mission statement isn’t enough anymore. Donors (like everyone else) are hungry. They want ongoing information. They want to know more than what your organization stands for. They want to know the overall reasons for sticking with you.

For example, just today the World Health Organization announced that every year 7 million people die of air pollution. Yes, 7,000,000. Now, you could say, “This is why we work toward cleaning the air. But, we can’t do it alone. We need your help.”

That isn’t what those donors want in their articles, in their case studies. They want information about the air pollution. They want to know why 7 million diefrom it.

  • Who it affects
  • What it is
  • When it’s the worst
  • Where it is
  • Why it’s been allowed to go on for so long
  • How to do something about it

Content marketing is necessary
if you want to attract new donors and
keep the donors you already have

This is what content marketing is. It’s giving your donors the information that they want to read, that they want to learn. It’s marketing without the overt appeals. It’s information, sure and clear. When you give them what they want online, they’ll gladly respond to your appeals in other forms.

What kind of content marketing are you doing? Let me hear from you!

How an Irish Poem Can Help Your Organization Get More Green

Years ago, I heard this poem set to music:

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Its a great blessing. Its also an optimistic business plan for your non-profit organization!

May the road rise up to meet you  

Planning the scope of your not-for-profit organization, or re-focusing on it, will help you on your service road. Remember your donors. Only a few thousand of the (estimated) 240,000,000 adults in the USA will agree with your vision. Travel toward them; concentrate your efforts on them. Leave the detours alone.

May the wind be always at your back

Its easier to move forward if you have the wind behind you. Todays wind is both postal and internet. Use both to connect with your donors. Walk in the flow of a warm wind.

May the sun shine warm upon your face

Share the sunshine. Give your donors that warm feeling of helping. Without donors, your organization wont exist very long. Share the sunshine.

May the rains fall soft upon your fields

Fields are life-giving. In the figurative sense, your donors are your fields. Your appeals are your rains on those fields. Water your fields well, and you will have an abundant crop. Let the fields lie fallow, or neglect to water them, and your theyll will wither and go. Donors are the same way.

And, until we meet again

Writing appeals to your donors needs to be ongoing. Theyre glad to hear from you. Why wouldnt they be? They share your vision. Just dont overwhelm them with an appeal every day (not even in an email).

May God hold you in the palm of His hand

More donors like to be helpful than not. They dont want to be inundated with appeals, but they will help you when they can. In the meantime, between appeals, you will let them know that you value their support by wishing them good health, good wealth and good wisdom.

Its a good business model

While the poem is a source of good wisdom all on its own, its also a good point to remember as a business model.

So, until you and I meet again, may you be held in the palm of His hand!

What does the poem represent to you? Here now, lass and laddie; show me what you may be a-thinkin!

Have You Sent Your Donors a REAL Thank You Note Yet?

Donors won’t give to your non-profit organization unless and until they feel that they make a difference. They give anywhere from a dollar a month to thousands of dollars every year. They’ve always given and always will.

At the same time, they’re human, and not just an endless wallet.

Is This What Your Donors Are Saying?

I’ve given to (non-profit organization) for the last six years. I gladly give whenever I can, but I’d like some kind of recognition for the money I give them. The only thing I ever get is a form-letter thank you, with a request for more tacked on. Or another bunch of address stickers. Just once I’d like someone there to take the time to send me a real thank you note!

A “Thank You” note sent by mail does wonders. It shows that your organization (and you in particular because you signed it) cares as much for the donor herself as for the money she sends. Granted, it might be difficult to manage if you’re a large organization. But, even then, a keyboarded note of thanks on good stationery, personally signed, and sent by post can go a long way. It isn’t impossible. It’s the ultimate “Thank You” in a world that relies more and more on instant gratification.

But, Donors Don’t Really Want Notes Like That!

Almost every donor says they want their money to go to the organization’s services. But, even then, they usually won’t blast the organization for sending a personal note. Especially since it’s void of an outright request.

Our Funds for Those Kinds of Thing Are Limited

How much is the lifetime gifts from that Donor? Most Donors give more than a hundred dollars every year in small increments ($10x12months=$120/year). They also give continually for as many as five, ten or thirty years. And thats for the monthly gifts.

They also give during the occasional special appeals.

Wouldnt you agree, then, that the roughly $3-$5 per once-a-year note of thanks is a minimal cost to spend and send?


It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to be kind.

Send it once a year, on their donation anniversary. Being on the receiving end (for once) will make the Donor feel that their donations really do count.

And, after feeling appreciated, the Donor will be ready to donate again (and maybe even more) for your next request for funds.

What do you think about sending real thank you notes? Let me hear from you in the comments below.