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How to Refine Your Messages Based on Year-End Giving

Posted by on December 9th, 2020
Posted in Blog, Fundraising Case For Support, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Copywriting, Nonprofit Fundraising   

With Giving Tuesdays behind us and year-end giving campaigns in full swing, the end of the year is a time to focus on the here-and-now and plan for the future.

In a year filled with so many challenges, no one could have been certain how giving would be affected. Now that you can review your annual fundraising results, do you know what messages resonated with your key donors?

Did online giving via email appeals increase from last year? Did those posts on Instagram fall flat? Although there can be tactical explanations for both, look closely at your messaging and storytelling. A good story—one that differentiates your work and impact from others in your space—can mean the difference between a donor giving generously or passing you over.

It’s time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t. To help you strengthen your fundraising messages we offer these three best practices:

Make Introductions, Not Assumptions

Even donors who have supported you in the past need to be reminded of what you do and why it matters. Don’t believe us? Ask yourself if you have any board members who seem to be a little confused about your mission. Now remind yourself that your confused board members know you much better than someone you’ve never met who has made a donation to you in the past.

Though we like to think our donors are our champions, they probably haven’t spent the entire year living and breathing your mission. Take the time to re-introduce your organization at every opportunity, emphasizing why your work really matters. You should, of course, start with your Belief Message.

Here’s an example showing how one sentence can create confusion or connection:

What NOT to do:
“With your support, we can do more.”

What to do:
“Students are waiting for a mentor like you.”

Talk Benefits, Not Features

Features are the programmatic details and operational specifics that describe how you accomplish your goals. Benefits are the results and impact of your work. People do not donate to support features and programs. They donate to solve problems. So highlight the problems your organization exists to solve, and let the donor see how her donation will actually help solve it. A great way to do this is by using a Problem Message.

Here’s an example showing how impactful it is to promote the value of your work versus the features of your work:

What NOT to do:
Help us expand our facilities

What to do:
Get our neighbors in safe housing this holiday season

Share Stories, Not Stats

Statistics, or even infographics, might not connect with donors in the way you hope they will. By using visual language and details to paint a picture in the audience’s mind, you will help your donor feel more connected to the cause your organization supports. Get started using our guide to creating your Impact Messages.

Consider this example:

What NOT to do:
“60% of all apartments in the city were built before 1975.”

What to do:
When fire ravaged the Anderson’s home they nearly didn’t get out alive. Their house was built before 1975 when smoke detectors were made standard.”

The first example is unclear because there is no context. Is 60% a lot? A little? Is it better or worse than it used to be? How has your organization impacted this percentage? And most importantly, why should your donor care? The second example, instead, shares a true and compelling anecdote that demonstrates your impact, and that won’t be forgotten.

As you evaluate and plan messaging for the new year, don’t miss the opportunity to connect with your donors in a more meaningful way.

Reach out to us to learn how Mission Minded can support your next fundraising campaign communications.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


Stephanie is a Mission Minded Brand Strategist and a huge Harry Potter nerd.

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