Published on October 17, 2013 by

How to write for donor retention (Part 1)

Gimme, gimme, gimme. Sometimes, that’s all your donors feel they hear from you.

But what we should really be doing is trying to give as much as we can to the donor.

Over the next few posts I will share some "donor gifts" that will hopefully shift attitudes from “How do we get more out of the donor?” to “How do we give something meaningful to the donor?”

Yes, so the donor feels more connected, emotionally engaged, happy or comfortable about giving to you. That’s how you get donors to give – and then keep giving.

Notice I'm not talking about “giving something back” to the donor. That’s all backwards. I’m talking about giving as much as we can to the donor… from the very beginning of your relationship.

You know yourself that your most healthy and rewarding personal relationships are the ones where both parties are giving and receiving.

In contrast, lopsided relationships tend to die because one person does all the giving and the other all the taking.

Although charitable giving does embody the idea of giving without expecting a return, that shouldn’t mean you treat your donors as cash cows.

Sure, your donors don’t expect a monetary return. But you can – and I believe you should – give them other rewards.

So how do you give, give, give to your donor through your copy?

Here’s my first "donor gift" - something I love to do for donors when I write.

Give power to the donor

There are so many things donors can’t control in their own lives. A donor can’t easily get a raise at work or magically get along with the in-laws. In these situations, they may feel frustrated, trapped or powerless.

But you can give them an easy way to contribute to solving a big problem. You can give them the sense they have the power to make a difference.

Even if their own problems feel insurmountable, here’s something they can do something about. If you connect their donation to the solution.

So write this:

“Your gift of $50 will…”

“When you give, you will be helping to…”

“Because of your generosity, XYZ will…”

Not this:

“We’d really appreciate your support to…” (Donor: "Are you asking for money, or for volunteers, or... what?"

“We cannot sustain our current levels of service to our clients without more help…” (Donor: “So what do you expect me to do about it?”)

This is why a strong ask is desirable. A clear and definite request for money is a concrete thing a donor can easily grasp. It gives power to the donor, who can then say, “Yes, I can do that and I’d like to!” (It also gives them the power to say no but at least it’s a clear choice.)

So what happens if you muddy the waters by asking for the nebulous “support”? Or if you don’t even ask at all?

Then most likely, you’ve painted a picture of a need that your donor can meet. But you haven’t shown them exactly how they can help. So you’ve given them yet another burden to shoulder but no solution.

Give power to your donors!

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