4 Keys to an Effective Ministry Message
Your ministry needs a message. But not just any message. A message that communicates the unique mission of your ministry in the mail and across every digital platform.
How? Here are guidelines:
- Your message will need to be a single, simple thought.
Many Christian organizations have a bunch of stuff to say, and they say most or all of it in every communication to their donors. They do not communicate a single, simple message. The busy donor can’t focus: What do you want me to DO? she asks silently, poised over the garbage can as she reads her mail or prepares to hit “delete” to keep her email inbox clutter-free.
Even if your ministry is wonderfully effective, if you’re not successful in communicating your mission to your donor, she can’t help you as much as she might otherwise.
- Your message will need to be something you can live with for a long time, because you will need to communicate it to your donor frequently.
It’s our natural tendency to think of our donors as a great stagnant pool of people, lying still and solemn, next to their mailbox or smartphone, with nothing to disturb their solitude but the mail or email they receive from charities.
This thinking motivates us as a ministry organization to ask for help less frequently — and then to “vary the request” from communication to communication.
But donors are not hovering near the mailbox or their computers or smartphones waiting breathlessly for the next ping from us. They are busy and distracted:
- they have grandkids tearing up the house,
- they have supper to cook and no butter in the fridge,
- they have this funny little pain in the shoulder — is this bursitis again, or something new?
- The donor’s life is not that stagnant pond, where your fundraising letter or email drops like a rock to make enormous, beautiful ripples.
- The donor’s life is a raging, chaotic river, where your fundraising piece hardly makes a blup! on the surface before it disappears — actually in something between 8 and 14 seconds.
The average donor doesn’t dread your appeals and emails. Why not? Because she doesn’t think about you at all during the time between each one.
Most donors don’t track the frequency of appeals or emails nearly as accurately as they track the message of those appeals and emails.
- Your message must be expressed in terms the donor understands.
- We can’t talk to our donors like a neurosurgeon at a neurosurgery conference — in clinical, unemotional terminology. We need to communicate in the language that regular, everyday people understand and use.
- If we communicate in cool, corporate terms, the distracted donor doesn’t hear anything that makes her heart go thump and inspires her to stop a moment and consider our appeal.
- You can’t talk to a human being like a corporation — even if you are a corporation. You must talk like a warm, personable human being.
- Your message must count to the donor.
This is the toughest nut to crack in the process of ministry development, and it has to be re-thought with each new communication with the donor. Your message will be presented many times, in many varied forms —
- in person
— with countless different “spins” or approaches. And every single time, the issue of why this should matter to the donor must be settled all over again.
More about this coming soon!