+ yourDo Dear Donor, As I reflect on the many blah, blah, blah, one ofannual appeal blah, blah, significant to engage blah, blah has been the blah, blah and our mission to blah,letters blah, principles of a three-pronged approach.suffer from Blah blah, economic downturn, blah blahthe dreaded believe that every one should have blah, blah, blah, and a chance to blah, blah the future inblah-blahs? order to blah, blah, vitally important blah, blah, blah, regardless of blah, blah, blah. Every year, nonprofits churn out thousands of appeal letters hoping their message will make us open our wallets. Linda Ziskind / z2 Consulting NTEN 2011 Ignite Presentation
+ Cartoon by the brilliantly funny Gary Larsen But the reality is different. No matter how compelling we think our message is, if it isn’t meaningful to the audience, it’s just a bunch of blah-blah.
+ …served and su 8-18, from urban pported over 1,2 20 young people schools around , ages remains on insti the region. Our fo lling the skills ne cus critical thinking, eded for the 21st creativity, collab century: and effective com oration, problem munication. -solving, While we have tr aditionally relied regional foundati on the generosit ons, we can no y of longer depend o This year, the needs of our Foundation n the are greater than ever before. Your donation to our annual appeal will directly support the Foundation. This, g this in turn directly supports the mission of id durin to cial a ble the museum and enables us to offer for finan ion availa s t programs for all ages, such as the quest educa y ted re is unique d is greatl popular Kids Summer program, teacher pre ceden ing th ou n ng un mak ackgr per ienci stance in no mic b ny re ex ssi f eco so ma We a y. Your a gardless o v es of eir future m econo qualify, r e the li th aff ected d them in ho ve re all w iated. we ha inspi Here’s the problem: boil all the appr ec c ause y that we e? Be sa u giv timonials d yo e tes copy down to the essence and they shoul s Why ts…becau hanged they all say the same thing. “We n stude and even c es implement mission-critical choic programs. We need money to continue. Please give it to us now.”
+ How To Recognize A Blah-Blah If a piece blathers-on and on, uses coma-inducing phrases like, “as I reflect on…” and is indistinguishable from any number of similar pieces – it’s a blah-blah.
+ Business Documents Have Always Suffered From Blah-Blah ulary ous vocab pretenti mble ..use y to ra ..te ndenc much data in too angled ..get t James YangBad communication habits Stanford Graduate School of Businesshave reached such critical Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvaniaproportions, businessschools have been forced Simon Graduate School of Business at University of Rochesterto start teaching writing Northeastern University College of Business Administrationskills. Information and graphic from Wall Street Journal article: “Students Struggle for Words” by Diana Middleton March 3, 2011
+ The Declarative Sentence Is A Lost Art One of the most difficult student assignments in Northeastern’s MBA program is to create a compelling sales story in less than 150 words, which is roughly four times the number of words on this slide.
+ This Is Not A Heretical Premise: Business sales pitches and nonprofit fundraising pitches are not that different. A donation and a purchase are both business transactions.
+ What ‘transaction’ means to a business definition: The exchange of items of value, such as information, goods, or services, and money. reality: People don’t buy products and services, they buy benefits and solutions.
+ What ‘transaction’ means to a business “People don’t buy a quarter-inch drill bit, they buy a quarter-inch hole." - Ted Levitt, Harvard Business School Marketing Professor / Brilliant Thinker
+ What ‘transaction’ means to a nonprofit definition: the giving of a gift, or free contribution, especially to a charity or public institution reality: People are paying for the emotional benefit of a specific and personal act of good.
+ The most direct path to a donor’s wallet is message-reduction Donor Action: Buy a goat Donor Benefit: Giving this family a sustainable livelihood Boil down the mission to its simplest, most personal component.
+ The most direct path to a donor’s wallet is message-reduction Donor Action: Send $10 via text Donor Benefit: Help the victims of the Haiti earthquake Dead simple, instantly gratifying and takes cash, credit cards & checks out of the equation.
+ The most direct path to a donor’s wallet is message-reduction Donor Action: Choose an item to fund Donor Benefit: See who you helped and learn about the difference your gift made Donor benefits organically integrated into every part of the organization.
+ 4-Step Cure For The Blah-Blahs 1. Find your story. a) In one sentence, describe what your organization does. b) Now describe the benefits of what your organization does. c) Now rewrite that sentence in simple, conversational language. This is the foundation of your story.
+ 4-Step Cure For The Blah-Blahs 2. Reduce your story. a) Turn macro into micro. b) Your story has 2 main characters, a donor and the end beneficiary. c) Write your story from the perspective of each of those characters.
+ 4-Step Cure For The Blah-Blahs 3. Get right to the point. a) The only people who read the entire appeal are you and your assistant. Everyone else skims. b) Leave the hardcore data at the door. c) If you want them to read past the first line, get them at “hello”.
+ 4-Step Cure For The Blah-Blahs 4. You’re not selling the drill-bit, you’re selling the hole. a) People get dozens of appeal letters and they all say the same thing: “We need your money because….” b) Turn the proposition around. “You’ll be a hero for just $15, which buys a 3 month supply of vitamins to help this child survive.” “You’ll change the lives of an entire family with the $120 purchase of a goat.”
+ Follow-Up = Big Returns Pick up the phone o Study showed: donors who got a thank you phone call from a board member within 24 hours of receiving the gift gave 39% more the next time they were solicited than donors who didn’t receive a call. After 14 months, the calls were netting 42% more.* Discover motivation o Find out why they chose to make a gift. Add the information to your donor database and reference it to personalize your next solicitation letter. *Penelope Burk
+ Follow-Up = Big Returns Show their money at work o Keep donors engaged with news about the people and programs their donations targeted. Talk to lapsed donors o Give them the opportunity to come in at a lower donation level. o Keep them up-to-date on the benefits of your organization. o Personalize & tailor your messaging to them for your next appeal.
+ Your Homework: When you get back to your office, take a look at your last fundraising appeal. If it’s more than one page, if you can win buzzword bingo in the first paragraph, and if it says “we” twice as much as it says “you,” take out the red pencil and get rid of the blah-blahs. Linda Ziskind / z2 Consulting NTEN 2011 Ignite Presentation