Enough about me, what do you think about me?


That may be Bette Midler’s most memorable line from the movie Beaches.  I hope the sentiment makes you smile, but I would encourage you to think about how her egocentric character can make your holiday appeal stronger this year.

This may sound a little crazy, but read on.

We know today’s donor is deluged with appeals asking for gifts for a variety of worthy causes.  But many fundraisers won’t take the time to demonstrate that they know the donor.   Instead letters are sprinkled with generic facts and figures that do not speak directly to the recipient.

This can be a turnoff because let’s face it we all have a little “Bette” in us right? Donors may not actually think “What do you think about me?” But they are definitely feeling, prove to me that you know me.” Today’s donors need to feel that we know them – that our request is personal.  This is necessary to earn their trust, their consideration, and ultimately their support.

So I want to share three tactics we are employing with my current client as we reach out to the (grateful) families we served this year.

First, we started with things we know.  There are four key service areas families can utilize. So this year are writing to them with specific information about the service area they benefit from.  This required a few conversations with the program service staff and some necessary administrative help. But it was time well spent.  Without this “intel,” we would be writing to for instance, the Jones family about a service they know nothing about. How likely are they to give? Not very.

Next, we are including the name of their son or daughter into the text of the appeal.  This personal information will keep them reading and realize that we are speaking to them about the most relevant topic out there – their loved one – who we are providing services to.

Third, our families have shared with us that they are busy and often stressed.  Some families head up single parent households.  With the added demands of supporting a child with an intellectual/developmental disability, we want to make gift-giving easier, if they choose to do so. To that end, we are including return postage on the reply envelopes for our families, for their ease and convenience.

So take a minute, reflect. Sit down with members of your program service staff to brainstorm and collect personal information you already have on the families you serve. By demonstrating that you are thinking of THEM, you can make this year’s holiday appeal the most successful yet.

by: Michelle Jimenez, Senior Consultant, HUB Philanthropic Solutions


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