Donor messaging should be simple: Do 1 Thing at a time!


Each time you sit down to communicate with your donors ask yourself this question:

“What is the 1 Thing I want to have happen when they read/hear/see this?”

Pick your 1 Thing. Then do only that Thing.

We talk all the time about the three building blocks of successful fundraising: Asking, Thanking and Reporting. Our suggestion is to pick which one of the three you’re doing and then focus relentlessly on that for whatever communication piece you’re working on.

If you’re Reporting back to donors on the impact of their gift, don’t also spend a bunch of time/space asking them to give again. Doing that is what makes donors complain that nonprofits are always asking for money.

If you’re Asking, just make a great case and Ask. Don’t spend 1/3 of your letter Thanking them, 1/3 telling them what you’ve been busy doing, and then tack on a request to send in a gift hidden at the end of your letter for the 20% of donors who read that far to find. Ask them to give a gift, make a great case for why they should, and then Ask them again!

Your donors are wonderful, compassionate, busy people. Make each communication about 1 thing. The clearer your message, the more people will understand and appreciate it.

Jim Shapiro

Jim Shapiro is the fundraising coach you’ve always wanted, the proven Sherpa who can help you get to the top of the mountain. Jim has 30 years’ experience raising money, including serving as the VP of Development for a global $100m nonprofit. He co-founded The Better Fundraising Co. to help small-to-medium nonprofits raise more money.

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