Getting Personal with Donors

Posted on Mar 17, 2017 in Blog, Insights

What’s the best way to quietly unveil your plans for a major capital campaign with key donor prospects? Treat them like insiders! Especially during the leadership phase of a capital campaign or in the ongoing cultivation of major donors, a school is wise to seek and take counsel from this essential constituency. Your donors and prospects tend to know the school well and are complimented to have you consult with them on setting priorities or tweaking a message. Keeping your preliminary case statement in simple draft form makes it clear you are serious about adjusting or adding to the content according to what you learn about how they view the campaign priorities.

This approach, also cost effective, gives a clear signal that you understand glitz is less important in your communications than a strong message your donors can refine as your plans develop. A side benefit from this kind of interchange is focusing in on your donors’ special interests.

Advancements in printing technology make it much easier to customize materials for individuals, with digital printers linked to databases allowing you to add donors’ names and other specific information to your campaign brochures that are close to the quality of traditional offset printing.

In an era of message bombardment, such personal touches will help make strong connections with your audience without a tremendous cost for small print runs. Working with variable data as part of the design scheme ensures that appeals and related materials will have maximum impact.

And don’t forget to fill in the blanks on your giving response slips and envelopes.

Avoid broadcasting the message “One size fits all, and do our work for us,” by populating these important items with names, address, affiliation, and gift levels. Help your donors feel “known.”

When it’s time to say thank you (which should be often), personalized email is a good way to express your gratitude. Include a photograph of a student, faculty member or project the donor has helped with a testimonial statement of appreciation. And, of course, the handwritten thank you note is still the most powerful way to show your appreciation for the donor’s generosity and involvement.