Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia

YOU, the Fundraising Writer

In Uncategorized on September 4, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Donor’s want to hear from you!

A few years ago at a fundraising conference, I briefly spoke with one of the presenters during a break in their session. I knew this was his own moment for a break, but I had to go for it. With a shaky voice, I approached Mr. Tom Ahern and asked him his advice on the first donor piece I was writing. (I said it last week, and I’ll repeat it here: it’s not wrong to ask another fundraiser for advice!)

Donors share the centre of the heart of our organizations (alongside those we serve). We need to speak to them specially. Jumping into writing to donors, is hard; if you are like me (with a background in Public Relations), you learned how to speak “organizationally.” For
instance, “The Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia has created a new program….” your typical opening line, but it’s
not necessarily 100 per cent true. It was the donor who made it possible and therefore should take front and centre stage. Which would turn an “organizational” statement, into a “donor-centric” one: “Because of your donations, families will have an opportunity to attend a new, informative program.”

If you aren’t new to this profession, writing to donors can still be a difficult skill. Here is a synopsis of what Tom Ahern suggests, with some of my own practices thrown in:

1. Grab a copy of every piece of donor communications you have (direct mail, thank you letters)

2. Did you also print off online materials that donors receive? Make sure you do!

3. Grab two different coloured pens

4. Dedicate time to doing an audit

5. Circle every instance of “organizational” text

6. Circle every instance of “donor-centric” text (with the other coloured pen)

7. Time to re-write your materials!

(For Tom Ahern’s full list, please click here)

I have heard Tom Ahern speak a few times and each time I am energized to write to our donors. I do a donor communications audit at least once a year and I ask that staff write NEW materials, instead of taking a former letter, changing the date and adding a new stat. It may seem like a lot of work, but can you afford not to reach out to donors and thank them for making possible so many things in your organization?

One of the reasons our department started this blog, was to add another medium for us to practice writing. Is there a way to incorporate practice writing time in your schedule?


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