There are a whole bunch of so-called “marketing companies” out there that say they help nonprofits get more planned gifts. I have a lot of issues with these firms. Here’s why:
1- Too often they seem to be more interested in selling cookie-cutter websites, spam emails, and printed newsletters than achieving real results. Here’s the problem with this:
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2- They tell nonprofits to employ “life-stage” marketing that makes assumptions about each supporter’s interest and consideration stage based mostly on their age.
3- The communications they send on behalf of their clients tend to focus mostly on how donors can make planned gifts and less on why they might want to do so.
Ramming messages down your donors’ throats based on your assumptions leads to a lot of wasteful, expensive marketing that ultimately misses the mark. Tweet this! But, even worse, it pisses your donors off because they recognize that you haven’t taken the time to learn about them. Instead, you just pelted them with your marketing.
Of course, the marketing vendors are happy to sell you this stuff. They benefit tremendously. But your donors aren’t thrilled about it. When was the last time someone called you saying, “Hey! I haven’t received my monthly planned giving e-blast! Please send it to me a.s.a.p.!” Never!!
In fact, in case you haven’t figured it out by now, that’s precisely why your response rates are so low!
Your communications should never be sprayed at your supporters based on your assumptions. Rather, they should be streamlined, segmented and versioned based on why your donors care and what they have told you about themselves, their families, their consideration stages, their philanthropic interests, their life stories, and their passions.
Folks, let’s be kind to the people who make your mission possible.
Don’t make assumptions about your donors and don’t focus most of your communications on how they can make a planned gift. You’ll make them angry and you’ll make them less interested in taking action to support your cause.
Instead, find out why they care and where they are in the consideration process. Then send them highly relevant, personalized messages that make sense.
That’s how you’d want to be treated. Don’t you owe them the same respect?
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I totally agree that the initial focus should be on the “why”. Only after there is interest is “how” relevant.