Organization-Centered to Donor-Centered
Last week, we looked at how I edited the opening of a good thank you letter to make it better. This week, we’ll look at the body of the letter and how to describe organizational accomplishments in donor-centered terms.
In donor-centered fundraising, it’s not about your organization, it’s about the donor. Your organization is the way the donor fulfills their desire to change the world, so you want to show how they did that. That means giving up the standard “Organization X did Y” construction and replacing it with statements that make the donor the driver of the accomplishments.
Here’s how I took the Catholic Nonprofit*’s thank you letter and edited the body text to make its accomplishments statements more donor-centered.
Our continued participation with the Social Justice Coalition has also provided an opportunity to assist LGBTQI individuals who have been affected by injustices at the hands of the church. Together with the Social Justice Coalition and our Social Justice Outreach Program we have continued to organize and assist church workers who have suffered injustices in the church they have been employed. (sic)
At our Albuquerque conference, we successfully marched with Strong Families New Mexico and their members in solidarity to protest the state’s unjust laws that affect families with limited resources.
- Names specific ways in which funds were used.
- Reinforces organization’s messaging by referring to programs and events that have been previously covered by organization’s newsletter, blog, and emails.
- Uses strong language like “injustice” which has been shown to resonate with this organization’s constituents.
COULD BE BETTER:
- Focuses on what organization did, rather than what donor helped to accomplish. It says “we” and “our” rather than “you” and “your.”
- Includes some syntax and grammatical errors that muddle the meaning.
You have promoted equality and dignity for LGBTQI individuals through the inspired collaboration of the Social Justice Coalition. You have aided and helped to organize church workers who suffered injustices at the hands of their employers. You have mounted an impressive display of solidarity at our Albuquerque conference as Catholic Nonprofit members marched side-by-side with Strong Families New Mexico to seek justice for families with limited resources.
In this draft, the donor is the agent, making all of the accomplishments happen. Generally, all I had to do was replace the organization/“we” with the donor/“you.” In some cases, the donors we’re writing to may have literally provided hands-on assistance. In other cases, they may have “only” provided financial support. However, in both cases, it’s accurate to give them credit because the organization certainly could not continue these programs without income from gifts and contributions.
Using “you have” three times in a row doesn’t hurt, either. This rhetorical technique emphasizes the donor’s role through repetition.
When you review your drafts, count the number of “we”-oriented statements and the number of “you”-oriented statements. A good rule is that the “you’s” should out number the “we’s” by 2-to-1. That’s an easy way to start turning an organization-centered correspondence into one that’s more donor-centered.
*I redacted the organization name and use “Catholic Nonprofit” in its place.