Ten Top Tips for great Donor communications


Make every word count. From the first word of the first line, you must engage, include, motivate and drive forward your core messages. There is no room for waffle.


Impact drives income! The power of story connects donors to your organisation. The impact of what you do – and the impact of what their donation will do – is paramount. All other information is secondary. Donor communications must focus on linking them to the beneficiary (take out the middle men – that’s usually the organisation – as much as possible). Demonstrate impact is your mantra.


Include your donor in the story. Do not talk at them. Bring them into the dusty village, or the hospital ward, or the child’s home. Make them a part of your team.what signposts and landmarks are on the way? If you don’t, they will be lost. Make a plan. Know what you plan to say over the course of the next 12 -18 months.


Don’t patronise. If you use language, terms or places that the reader won’t know or understand you exclude them. Don’t use the name of an African village assuming your reader will know where or what it is. Put it in context (a small rural village near Nairobi) and give descriptions that are relevant to the story or challenge they face (In Turkana desert, where 600,000 people live in a brutal landscape larger than the island of Ireland, 80% of adults cannot read or write)


Donor is Queen. Communications have to be relevant to the reader’s life. Ask questions. Set context (In one week in Dublin’s St James Hospital, 35 A&E emergency operations are performed. In one week, in one clinic, in one part of CAR, MSF performed 91 emergency operations on patients with machete and bullet wounds. In a tent. ) Make a connection to something they will understand or relate to.


Donor care is King. Donors need to be cared for. They want to be appreciated. They want to feel included. They want to feel in the know – a part of your organisation. They want to know they matter – and they make a difference.


Use Emotion over fact. Use Story over statistic. You’re talking to people with lives, loves, worries, challenges, hopes and dreams. Be human.


Always link donations to impact. Always. What will their gift achieve?


Write well. I will develop a blog on this shortly but here are three top tips – keep sentences short. Use techniques that enhance the flow and rhythm of the text (like the power of three – listing three ideas or points). Break up your text with short paragraphs, indents, and questions.


Make sure you have a map. We talk about taking our donors on a journey. Do you know where you are taking them? Do you know what signposts and landmarks are on the way? If you don’t, they will be lost. Make a plan. Know what you plan to say over the course of the next 12 -18 months.

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