Think Like a Donor—And Reach Them Where They Are
Before the dawning of the digital age, the donor experience was a more involved process. Typically, donors watched you, listened to you, or laid their hands on paper you sent them. Time was spent building a relationship; there was a more human connection. Today, digital media has abbreviated and condensed interactions into small “byte”-sized pieces. This shift makes it easy for our thinking to become abbreviated and condensed as well, but strategic thought is needed today more than ever.
If you give me 30 minutes to tell my story, the chances are good that I can get you to empathize with my cause, even if my delivery isn’t perfect and I stumble over some of my words. But if you give me a 10-second video to accomplish the same purpose, there is no margin for error.
In the past we did not have to think as much about how donors were thinking, because we had time to talk to them and turn them around to think like us. But now we need to be very mindful of what is on their minds.
For example, when a donor wakes up in the morning and groggily checks their email, how will your message strike them vs. after lunch? When a user is on Facebook unwinding from the day, are they thinking differently than they are when checking their email?
To reach donors today we must think like them more and more.
My favorite example is the early Monday morning email appeal. Fundraisers want to start the week off strong, but they are thinking like fundraisers, not donors. Many people have a Monday morning email routine that I refer to as “Search and Destroy.” They want to clear out their inbox as quickly as possible and dig into what is needed for starting the week. They wish it was still the weekend and every email they can delete without opening helps them claw out from the clutter that filled their inbox over the last few days.
The obvious leaning is to not send early morning emails on Mondays unless it is bleeding-edge urgent and can punch through that weary mental state.
But the bigger takeaway is to think like a donor before you write, before you schedule, and before you push the send button. If you can tune your message to reach them where they are, then you greatly improve your ability to succeed.
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