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Donor Participation Project

Ten Tips for Donor-Focused Writing

Effective communication is key to building meaningful relationships with donors. Your writing should focus on the donor, not your organization. Here are ten tips for crafting donor-focused communications from our session with Debbie Meyers.

Know your audience. Research your donors to understand their motivations and interests. Segment your list and tailor messages to different groups.

Make it personal. Use donors’ names, mention their previous gifts, and highlight their impact. Thank them for their loyal support. Ask for and use personalized salutations.

Praise and thank. Express gratitude for donors’ gifts and their role in achieving your mission. Thank them specifically for the change they make possible.

Use a conversational tone. Write the way you speak to build rapport. Use contractions, end sentences with prepositions, and start sentences with conjunctions like “and.” Keep your language straightforward and friendly.

Be original. Avoid clichés and “mad libs.” Come up with creative ways to start thank you letters beyond the standard “Thank you for your gift of $X to Y program.” Share stories and examples that are unique to your work.

State your purpose. Don’t bury the lead. Explain why you’re communicating within the first paragraph. Be transparent about asking for donations or help. Your donors will appreciate your clarity and honesty.

Tell a story. Stories inspire action. Share stories of how donors’ gifts impact real people. Storytelling triggers emotions and makes information more memorable.

Show impact. Highlight compelling statistics and specific examples of how you’re achieving results. Focus on outcomes and impact, not just activities. Build a case for the importance of donors’ support.

Keep it concise. Aim for short sentences, active voice, and straightforward language. Follow the “rule of three” to keep discussions brief. Pack each communication with value for the reader.

Start and end strong. Begin by stating your purpose clearly. End by reiterating key points and issuing a clear call to action. Thank the reader again for their support. Strong endings create lasting impressions.

Following these tips will help you craft donor communications that inform and inspire. Build trust through authentic and impactful messaging focused on your donors’ interests and motivations. Make each interaction an opportunity to strengthen your relationship.

View the full recording of this session in our Resource Library.

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