I opened a piece of mail the other day. It was from an organization we’ve supported – one that does good work, important work.
But here’s what jumped out at me right away about this short piece.
It was ALL about them.
I couldn’t help myself. I grabbed a pen and started circling the references to the organization. Then I put a square around the times “you” or “your” was used.
The differences are pretty telling.
Are you cringing just a little, too? Here’s the thing: we’re already supporters. They shouldn’t need to throw a lot of “here’s why we’re so important!” at us.
I understand – and appreciate – the passion for their work that’s expressed here. But when your entire appeal is a list of why your organization matters, and the only time you mention the donor is an ask, you’re like a salesman at the door. Talking, talking, talking, sure that if he stops you’ll close the door. And never once checking to see what you have to say.
So, be a little assumptive. Assume your donor is a terrific person who really cares. Assume she gives because she shares your concern for a cause. Treat her like a partner, not a prospect. Explain the problem, one person to another. Show her how she can solve it.
And use Tom Ahern’s you test (read more here or here, and for heaven’s sake, sign on for his newsletter) with everything you write. It’s simple – just highlight or circle in red every time you’ve written “you” or “your” or “you’ll”. It should make your page very colorful. If it doesn’t, rewrite.
This isn’t just about playing with words. It’s an attitude. When you write focused on your donor, not your organization, things shift. And that’s when your donor starts to pay attention. And you raise more money.