Long-term supporters are the life-blood of successful fundraising programs. So why is it that we so often take our long-term supporters for granted?
Think about it for a moment. How absurd would it be if we only called our parents when we wanted money? Okay, maybe that’s not a great example. Let me try another one. What if you only talked to your boss when you wanted a raise? How long do you think you would keep your job?
It’s all about communication. I had a phrase that I used so often in college that my friends used to tease me about it. “Communication is the key” I’d say – whether it was a relationship question, job question etc. I guess I said it so often though because it was – and still is – true. I might clarify that a little further now by saying the effective communication is the key.
Communication is definitely the key when it comes to building long-term friends (ie supporters) for your organization. Here are three communication tips to help you get started:
- Communicate Regularly. It might be tempting to try to cut back on messages that you send out. I know we’re all overwhelmed with the amount of information we’re processing each day. Our email boxes are overflowing, we have ads popping up all over the internet, we have RSS feeds that we’re following, not to mention Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts to try and keep from running us over. So it’s tempting to cut back – to save other people from that information overload. Cutting back is not the answer. The real answer is to make your communications more meaningful. Make it something they look forward to receiving. Share stories about people your organization is helping. In some cases you may need to develop a ‘composite’ story to protect the identities of those you serve. But whatever you do, make it more meaningful – rather than cutting back.
- Communicate Emotionally. This is where stories become so helpful. Instead of stating: ‘this makes me angry,’ share a story that would evoke anger. Let others experience it for themselves, let others come to their own conclusions about how they feel. When you read through your materials, pay special attention to assumptions that are made – instead, provide the backup that led you to that assumption so that the reader can make their own assumption as well.
- Communicate Appropriately. There are so many possibilities for communication these days. The most important thing then is to find out where your people hang out and where they get their information. Then pick a few different ways to communicate and build an integrated message. This means (1) communicate where they are and (2) use different mediums to reinforce your message.
These are my thoughts – what are yours?