I’m always a bit amazed at how self-focused organizations are in their communication. And how quickly they default to talking to their donors about the “what” rather the “why” of the organization.
It’s about “we”, “us”, and “our” programs or needs.
For example, an opening sentence in one direct mail letter I recently read said, “At [charity] we understand that ours is the kind of work that’s never easy, and it’s never really done.” All about “us” and “our” work.
Or in another letter, “[Charity] urgently needs your critical support of initiatives such as our [blank] programs.”
All about “us” and “our” programs.
In our list of top ten fundraising mistakes, mistake number six is “Your donors don’t care about your organization.” It’s true. They don’t. They care about why you do what you do… feeding the hungry, caring for the elderly, giving opportunity to the poor, giving hope to the hopeless.
It’s about the lives you and your organization are reaching and transforming through your work. That’s why donors give you their hard-earned money.
It’s hard not to think programmatically when you are submerged in the day-to-day of your organization and dealing with the various programs that deliver key services to your constituents. But it’s vital you shift from internal, programmatic thinking to life outcomes as a result of those programs when you talk to donors.
In what has become a classic TED Talk, Simon Sinek hits the nail on the head. If you’ve never watched this video it will help you better understand why this is such a big issue and hopefully help you shift how you think about donor communication. You can watch the video here.
As you will come to see, your donors don’t support what you do, they support why you do what you do.