Forget fake. Get rid of the pontifications. Skip the corporate-speak. Ditch everything that isn’t real. If you aren’t thinking about what your donors want, then you’re skipping a key component in your overall fundraising strategy. We’ve already discussed that your donors crave experience and transformation.
Now let’s talk authenticity.
I was on a conference call a few weeks ago. One of the participants was clearly a sharp, technologically savvy woman. She knew her stuff. She has a great idea, and I believe it has a great future. But I couldn’t wade through all the techno-babble and strategy-speak. She lost me completely because she wasn’t speaking “real”.
That started me thinking about how often charities and ministries do their versions of the same thing. They do “corporate-ministry speak” rather than real.
Here’s a pretty crazy idea in the fundraising world: be yourself. Let your donors get to know the Executive Director. Let your donors hear about your leader’s passion. Let the person behind the title shine. Donors want to experience the emotions with you. The point isn’t to fill your appeal letters or newsletters with raw, unfiltered blabbing. The point is to use all the channels at your fingertips. Blog about your passions! Let your Facebook status actually show how you’re feeling and what you’re doing. You have so many tools available, use them to help your donors (and prospective donors) learn about you and your organization.
Tell them how you’re changing lives. And tell them how you know lives are being changed. Or better yet, show them how you’re changing lives. Or even better yet, quote someone who’s life you changed (with a photo!). Your donors want to know the people they are changing or helping. Don’t get in the way of that story. Don’t get in the way of the reality.
Your donors also want to know you. They want to know the ups and downs of your ministry. When things don’t go the way you’ve planned, find a way to talk about it. You don’t have to tell them every detail. And you certainly don’t want to tell them details that will breach their trust, but you can probably tell your donors far more about what happens than you are. Don’t tell the reality specifically to raise money, donors spot that for what it is: bad fundraising. But don’t be afraid of being real and deliver it with a side-order of nitty gritty.
Your donors are hearing from other charities with perfectly sanitized communications. Mostly those are: no reality. no rawness. no scuff marks. You can’t afford to look, sound and be like all of those other guys. I need to say that authentic isn’t sloppy or inaccurate. Authentic is real, not dumb.
Take a chance. Be real.
So what do you think? Do you know any NPOs who do a good job of authenticity? What’s your key strategy for realness?
Talk to me.
(photo credit: prudencebrown121)