Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia

Posts Tagged ‘Donor communications’

YOU, the “annual report” creator

In Communications on July 2, 2014 at 3:32 pm

annual report card                                                                            Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia – “Annual Report” Postcard

Depending on your fiscal year-end, chances are YOU just helped your organization publish an annual report. It takes a village to make an annual report. YOU need stories from the program staff, and financials from Finance; there is the obligatory Executive Directors message and that donor listing from your (hopefully) well maintained database.

But what if YOU didn’t do that?

Earlier this year I challenged our Department of Philanthropy to BE BOLD. Why would the annual report be status quo then?

This year we decided to buck tradition and try something new: no annual report at all! I say that tongue in cheek because of course, we wanted to share with our donors, supporters and partners how they have made the difference in the lives of those living with dementia.

We just didn’t want to do it with a 15 page booklet.

Here is what we did that maybe YOU can get some ideas from for your next annual report!

1. We made a video and we didn’t tell YOU who was who in it. We weren’t joking when we said that this “annual report” was going to be about the stakeholders who make things possible. In the video is our Executive Director, Board President and Director of Programs and Services. But also families that have used our services and volunteers. It doesn’t matter who is who.

2. We made a postcard (see above). All the information about our programming, our partnerships and even our revenue and expenses, can be found on a postcard. People have little time to sort through mail and sit down and read a booklet, but a quick snapshot with the important information is a great way to stand out in a overcrowded mailbox!

3. We made a website. One of the benefits of an annual report is being able to read an organizations financial reports as well as browse their donor listings. At the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia we believe that we need to be transparent and authentic to our donors, so we made a webpage on our site where supporters can see the video and download the financial information. We then bought a website address to re-direct to that page, for easier access.

4. We didn’t call the video or the postcard an ANNUAL REPORT. We did this on purpose. Because A – Now we can use the video or the postcard all year. One department has ordered enough to give every conference participant! And B – no one wants to read an annual report. The connotation with the term is, well, boring.

We sent actual postcards to donors, volunteers and supporters. Each department took their own stack. I took some and wrote personal notes (like you usually see on postcards) to monthly donors and sponsors. Some received the card electronically: For instance, our Giving Tuesday donors, since they were all online, were emailed the card with a link to the video.

Within a day of launching the video at our annual general meeting, we had close to 200 views and many comments on how nice it was to spend four minutes with an “annual report” rather than receiving a booklet.

While an annual report video and postcard is not new, I think it is BOLD. It is an interesting way to show donors how their donations impact Nova Scotians.

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?