14 Jun 2018
Making oneself vulnerable has a certain cleansing quality — the feeling of “I have nothing to hide” is very freeing.
You’ll often get a warm response from donors when you’ve made yourself vulnerable, and that’s enriching too.
One of our clients tended to be quite closed in discussing his emotions; he was extremely reluctant to reveal anything of the sort to his donors. But there was a program produced by his ministry which was particularly close to his heart — a program designed to help underprivileged children in very practical ways.
The ministry leader grieved, literally, over his ability to fund the program fully. But year after year, the donors failed to respond.
Finally, he agreed to bare his soul. In a letter to donors, he admitted how deeply he was hurting about his failure to raise the money needed. He didn’t whine; he just expressed the truth about the frustration and pain he was feeling — in the context of the children’s need.
The results were powerful. Donors responded to his willingness to disclose his own pain. They gave generously. The program’s funding increased dramatically.
Vulnerability made the difference.
07 Jun 2018
One of the most powerful tools of communication available to a ministry marketer is simple transparency.
When the ministry leader tells me, in the context of an appeal letter, something about himself, it engages me in a way that no amount of rational explanation of the need and the benefits can.
A letter to your donors might say, “I feel this is one of the most important actions we could ever take together.”
But it would more effectively communicate if it said, “I was sitting in my Buick yesterday, stuck in traffic. I normally would have been frustrated about running late, but instead I found myself thinking about this plan — because it’s one of the most important actions we could ever take together.”
You could ask me to give to a project — or you could tell me that you and your spouse have talked about it and decided, because you believe in it so strongly, to give a sacrificial gift … and ask me to do likewise.
Transparency has a connecting effect on a reader or a listener.
31 May 2018
Find Out What Your Donors Are Thinking
Solicit feedback from your donors. How is the organization changing their lives? What kind of impact is the ministry making? How can you make more of a contribution to their spiritual growth?
Ironically, the ministries that end up being “complaint-driven” — overreacting to a small number of complaints and changing direction accordingly — are often the same ministries which fail to solicit feedback from donors.
They have no apparatus for donors to communicate with them as “members of the team”; yet when criticism somehow makes its way to them, they respond to it as if it were an edict from on high.
Far better to create some kind of regular device for donor feedback, which has the effect of bringing a broader and more representative cross-section of opinion to the surface — so the criticisms can be received in the context of the compliments!
24 May 2018
Friends stay friends in part because they find each other interesting, even amusing. Likewise, boring appeals never raise money.
Your donors should come to expect something fascinating every time they receive a piece of mail from you. A letter to a donor should have life. Pep. Zing. Or drama. Or charm. Or bits and pieces of all of the above.
If the donor comes to expect boring, low-energy communication from you mailing after mailing, the relationship is doomed. Your donors, just like virtually all the Christian donors in the marketplace, need their interest to be gained and held.
17 May 2018
It’s Okay to “Gossip”
Any ministry in the world can say, “Here’s what we’re doing; please support it. And when you give, I’ll send you this wonderful whatever….” But only you can tell the story of a family touched and transformed by the love of God through your unique ministry.
Only you can tell how your heart broke as you witnessed the crying need of an individual — and how your heart soared as you saw that life restored … by the grace of God, through the generous giving of your ministry family.
Only you can tell what God is doing inside your ministry, where He’s leading you, what’s on the horizon.
The more you share how your ministry is unique — unlike other ministries — the more connected your donors will tend to become to it.
10 May 2018
The Importance of Relevance
The marketing of your ministry must make the ministry relevant to the donor.
You may talk all about your organization, you may talk all about the specific needs you’re facing, you may talk all about the lives that will be touched and transformed by God through your efforts, and you may ask me — implore me — to help you accomplish something important and wonderful … but I will respond only to the extent that I see myself in the picture.
The appeal must be about me; it can’t be just about you.