Talk like your donors

Someone did a study a few years ago of the TV interviews of Larry King. Seems when he interviewed A-Listers (Very Famous and Important People), King adapted the way he talked and moved to be like them. When he interviewed B-Listers (Merely Famous People), he didn’t adapt to them. It seems King thought of himself as right in between the A and B Lists.

It reflects something we all do, usually unconsciously: We adapt to those of higher status than us; we expect those who lower status to adapt to us.

The BlueFrog Creative blog has a useful and interesting take on this phenomenon for fundraising: Do you treat your donors like A-Listers or B-Listers?

The point: We should adapt to our donors’ way of talking. Not expect them to adapt to ours. After all, they’re the A-Listers in the relationship, the ones making it all possible.

Too much fundraising is packed with words like sustainability and civil society — words that we love because they describe important things, but have little meaning and no emotional impact for our donors.

Some fundraising is chained to restrictive “brand guidelines” that have the central goal of capturing the excellence and awesomeness of the organization — not speaking in the language and concepts of the people whose generosity makes the organization possible.

Instead, we should become students, and then experts, on the ways our donors describe our work. As Bluefrog suggests:

Go places where people are discussing your cause and your charity. For medical charities especially, it can be useful to visit online forums and see what words and phrases they use, what emotions they express – in order to better know your donors.

Give it a shot. Adjust to your A-Listers. Talk like your donors.


Comments

2 responses to “Talk like your donors”

  1. There really is nothing worse that reading or hearing something that is in “corporate speak.” The hook to good communications, I think, is always injecting personality and a relatable element into it.
    I’ve definitely took note of how donor refer to their interest in non-profits. For instance, if you ask them why they choose to donate to that organizations, the answers will tell you the language and emotions they respond to.

  2. There really is nothing worse that reading or hearing something that is in “corporate speak.” The hook to good communications, I think, is always injecting personality and a relatable element into it.
    I’ve definitely took note of how donor refer to their interest in non-profits. For instance, if you ask them why they choose to donate to that organizations, the answers will tell you the language and emotions they respond to.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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