February 23, 2009

It’s pretty amazing: donor research repeatedly tells us that donors don’t know how their money is used.

Just think about that. Your donors don’t know how you spend their gifts.

What’s really amazing about this state of affairs?

— Organizations send solicitation letters asking for gifts – and presumably saying how the gift will be used.

— Organizations send newsletters with articles about what’s happening – and presumably those articles tell donors how and why their gifts matter.

So we could just blame the donor.

Damn those donors: they don’t read! Well, donors are so busy they don’t have time to read. Well, gosh, that’s not the fault of the organization.

Stop right there! Let’s be clear. Donor’s don’t know how organizations spend gifts – and that is the fault of the organizations.

It’s your job to tell donors where their money goes. Tell them over and over – in newsletters and personal updates and on your website and in your solicitation letters.

Tell the donors well and clearly and with vim and vigor. Be interestesting. Communicate effectively. Because over and over and over, donors say they just don’t know how you spend their gifts.

How to do this? Write better. Pay attention to readability. Know what your donors want to hear.

How to figure all this out? Read Tom Ahern’s e-news. Read all the blogs I keep telling you about here on this homepage, for example The Agitator, Donor Power Blog, and Seth Godin‘s blog.

Read Keep Your Donors: The Guide to Better Communications and Stronger Relationships, described on my homepage. Read all the other books by Tom Ahern, published by Emerson & Church. Read Mal Warwick and Kay Sprinkel Grace. Read Adrian Sargeant and Karla WIlliams.

Tell your donors how you spend their money – and tell them well. Cause chances are, you may not be doing that right now – or donors wouldn’t keep complaining!

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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