The Planned Giving Blogger

The art and science of planned giving.

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Donor profiles in your planned giving newsletter?

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Tom Ahern, writing in his e-newsletter, asks whether putting donor profiles in your newsletter is worth the trouble.  The short answer:   “They can lead to bigger things … or nowhere. You decide.”

You’re at the worthwhile end of the spectrum, Ahern says, “when your donor profiles are meaningful to other donors and can lead somewhere. Then donor profiles become opportunities.”

Ahern’s article, which includes a good example of a worthwhile profile is worth a read.

Phyllis

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Written by Phyllis Freedman

June 29, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Planned giving marketing: harnessing the power of persuasion

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I’ve always been a fan of making articles about gift types and gift planning simple to understand and follow.  That extends to the format as well as the content.  For example, I’m a big believer in using 1., 2., 3., steps along with this numbering format.  For example, when explaining how a gift annuity works.

And, I’m passionate about making sure our communications with donors include prominent and frequent “calls to action.”  That is, asking the donor to take a step and even telling the donor exactly what we want him or her to do.  For example, in Q & A articles and fact sheets, I often conclude with the question “What should I do next?” to put the donor on the path to taking the action we most want taken.

Now comes a research study published in Inside Influence, the website/blog of Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., who has made ethical persuasion his life’s study.  I’ve written about other of Dr. Cialdini’s findings previously.  The most recent article, entitled “Planning Persuasion,” describes a study that showed, conclusively,  ” . . .that simply hearing “Yes” from another person is just a starting point, rather than an ending point, for persuasion. To optimize the likelihood that others will follow through with their intentions, consider specifically asking them how they plan to go about accomplishing the goal they’ve promised to pursue. This doesn’t need to be done in a micro-managing or demanding way. Rather, you could ask about the details as they relate to whether or not there are specific aspects of the tasks with which you can help.”

For articles in newsletters, cover letters and other printed materials we send donors, we can suggest the steps to the donor, for example for how to include our organization in their estate plan.  In conversations, especially when a donor says that he or she is intending to or considering including us, a conversation about “how” the donor plans to do that might prove fruitful.

Phyllis

Written by Phyllis Freedman

June 22, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Stewardship done right: #6

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I got an interesting mailing from the salon where I get my hair cut.  It begins “Celadon is now in its tenth year and we would like to thank you for your loyalty to us, now and over the years.   As a token of our appreciation we have enclosed a gift for you.”

The gift was two salon gift cards, one to use myself and one to give away to a friend.

What they sent me was not as important as the acknowledgment of my loyalty (although I think they were smart to suggest that I introduce a friend to the place).  What’s critical here is the fact that the communication was completely unexpected.  Unlike a thank you note that comes in response to a donation or an annual report mailing that comes every year like clockwork, this mailing came out of the blue and delighted me because it was unexpected and because it recognized my special relationship to the salon.

I share this story not only as an example of stewardship done right but to suggest that today consumer expectations are exceedingly high.  If a hair salon is doing stewardship this well, what must donors expect of us?

Phyllis

Written by Phyllis Freedman

June 21, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Stop telling stories.

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That’s the provocative title of a recent blog post by Steve Yastrow, a speaker, consultant and author of the book “We: The Ideal Customer Relationship.” Steve doesn’t really suggest that you stop telling stories.  His twist is that you should stop telling stories about yourself and let the story be the donor’s. 

“Sales and marketing are about helping your customer create a story, in his mind, in which you figure as a prominent, clear, vibrant character. If your customer tells himself a meaningful, motivating story that includes you, he will be much more likely to get more involved with you, and take actions that improve your business results.”

Phyllis

Written by Phyllis Freedman

March 2, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Romance your donors with feminine copy.

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Jeff Brooks, the immensely talented fundraiser and Future Fundraising Now blogger, published a great post last week on how to address gender differences in copywriting.  I’m not excerpting it, because Jeff’s post, in its entirety, is worth a read.

Thanks, Jeff!

Phyllis

Written by Phyllis Freedman

February 23, 2010 at 11:52 pm

The dreaded legal department.

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One of the most popular posts I’ve written was entitled “The dreaded communications department.”  I figure I should give equal time to the other bane of most gift planners:  the legal department.

I’m prompted to write because I got a great blog post from my friend and marketing pro, Kirk Kirkpatrick, of Marketing-Fix who writes a wonderful blog on marketing called “100 words” (hint:  all of his posts are only 100 words long.)  Recently he wrote about a clever Valentine’s Day promotion he saw in the NY Times that completely fell apart because of the fine print.

His takeaway: “never hire the legal department–or Ebenezer Scrooge–as your marketing guru or copywriter.”

My takeaway:  never let your legal department unnecessarily burden your gift planning marketing materials with too much legalese or disclaimer.  Gift planning marketing is, for the most part, a lead generation activity.  Complicating mass marketing pieces with too much legalese can dissuade and even frighten donors whereas in a one-on-one conversation with a donor, the necessary legal content can be explained in a relaxed setting where concerns can be addressed.

Phyllis


Written by Phyllis Freedman

February 22, 2010 at 11:44 pm

Communicating impact effectively.

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Lisa Sargent, in her Loyalty Letter blog describes how our usual way of talking about our work using numbers and statistics makes comprehension challenging for most people.  We are a nation of innumeracy–mathematic illiteracy–so our readers have difficulty with large numbers and percentages.

Lisa says, “So instead of writing, “63% of prison inmates can’t read,” you instead write: More than six out of every ten prison inmates can’t read. Now for the larger-than-life number: 774 million.

Most humans have no way to process a number that big. We simply can’t get our heads around it. Adding a reference point, though, changes things considerably: 774 million people in the world are illiterate — more than the entire population of North America.”

Read Lisa’s blog post for the full details and great references for even more information.  And then take a look at some of your fundraising and stewardship letters and planned giving marketing materials, including newsletter articles.  Check the numbers and statistics you’ve used and see if they pass the Human Scale Principle test.  Verify that you are giving everyday meaning to your numbers.

Phyllis

Written by Phyllis Freedman

February 1, 2010 at 11:45 pm