I wrote the letters at my former organization. With a few years’ distance, I definitely found a few things I’d change. But one thing struck me – how consistent the messages were in every letter, over the years.
I might have shared a new story or added something timely. But the basic message about what donors’ gifts would do – why they should give – was pretty much the same over 7 years.
We had a very loyal donor base – with higher than 70% retention. The message I used was the message that resonated for them. You might think after years of reading it (in slightly different form), they’d tire of it. But as my youngest son used to say, “A little bit, but not so much”.
I’m not bragging. I had the advantage of an executive director who had been there forever. He knew many of our donors personally. So it was easier to get a grasp on a useful persona.
Why am I telling you this? Because it’s a lesson we sometimes ignore. We’ve heard it all before. We’ve written it all before. Can’t I please get a little creative here? Think carefully before you indulge that desire.
In fact, repetition is one of the core traits of successful fundraising.
You keep asking again and again.
You keep asking for the same thing every time.
Within one message, you repeat the same ask several times.
Yes, it can get boring. But it’s going to take your donors a lot longer to get bored than it takes you. You read all the repetitions, paying full attention. Your donors miss most of your attempts to tell them the message, and those they do read, they read quickly, with half their mind thinking about other things.
So find the messaging that works. And dismiss your own boredom. Because we’re not our donors, and no matter how great your writing is, they’re not hanging on your every word.