Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia

YOU, Making Time for a Donor Communications Audit

In Uncategorized on February 11, 2014 at 3:16 pm

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Yesterday afternoon was interesting. My fund development team got together in our boardroom to start something new to us. We started a donor communications audit.

Do YOU know what a donor communications audit is? Not everyone does. Basically, it’s an evaluation of a department or organization’s communication effectiveness.

In this case, my team and I started to evaluate all of the documents we sent out to our donors over the past calendar year. We manage many events and campaigns throughout the year, so as YOU can imagine it was a daunting pile.

The team, led by our Director, started the process off by telling us we are all superheros! We are Coordinators of Appreciation. Pretty cool, right? I might get a shirt made. Every superhero has a secret power and ours is the  ability to make donors who connect with our cause feel appreciated and special.

I think that’s an awesome job.

None of us had completed a donor communications audit before. We owe it to our donors to give them the BEST donor-centric language with tug at the heartstrings stories and interesting communication pieces that are full of thanks that we can write!

With that in mind, we got started. Each of us had a station equipped with a note pad, highlighter, pens, and paperclips. We each took a pile and read through every thank you letter,  newsletter, brochure, tax receipt and appeal letter with our checklist in mind.

Here is the checklist:

  • Circle the word YOU
  • Put a star by any personal stories
  • Highlight  internal/organizational speak
  • Underline facts and figures
  • Put a heart by thank you
  • Put a check mark next to an ask
  • Draw a happy face by good pictures (people’s faces and eyes)
  • Mark and X by bad pictures (an empty podium, backs of a crowd etc.)

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I know we’re all very careful with what we send out to donors but with this new critical eye, I found that some of our documents weren’t very donor-centric at all. My team agreed.

This useful exercise proved that we have improvements to make and donors to save! Perhaps, we should keep this checklist and use it as a guideline for everything we send out and we should continue to complete an audit every year because it’s the only way we’re going to improve.

Our next step in the donor communications audit will be to go through the documents we evaluated together and discuss our findings. I know my team and I will come up with new ideas and strategies to improve our donor communications.

I hope this has inspired YOU to do your own donor communications audit or revisit the idea if it’s been a while for YOU and your organization. We’d love to hear stories about how your team completed an audit and what it meant for your donors.

To read more about how to do your own donor communications audit, check out Tom Ahern’s step by step to a self-audit here.

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