Putting Thanks Back in Thanksgiving–And Your Donor Communications

November 18, 2020 | Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA

If I never again hear the phrase, “now, more than ever,” I would be pleased. I understand why we use it, to convey urgency, but it is hackneyed. Was our mission not urgent before Covid19?

I am writing having just returned from a weekend of silence. With all that has happened this year, I find spending time in stillness necessary, and it’s particularly necessary if you want to go deeper in your donor communications and avoid stale messages.

You see, periods of extended silence offer us the opportunity to step out of the materialistic world and into the world of oneness. Both of these worlds exist, but most of us live in a world where separateness rules. That’s the world that can’t express gratitude in a deep way that reaches those we love. And if you write from that dualistic world, your words will fall short.

 

Do You Love Your Donors?

Let me ask you a critical question. Do you love your donors? If you do, then you must find fresh and genuine ways to express gratitude to them.

If you’re not sure if you love your donors, then I invite you to ponder the question. You may find “love” a bit of a mushy word, a stretch. Yet the word “philanthropist,” which your donors are when they donate to you, means “love of humanity.” So, yes, find room in your heart to love your donors.

 

A Few Suggestions

I always take time in silence before I draft an appeal letter. 25-minutes usually does the trick.

When in silence, my usual fundraiser’s agenda about how to connect with my donors comes to mind. I watch the thoughts come and go, avoiding clinging to them, avoiding resisting them. Instead, I observe and keep slowly breathing through my nose, eyes open but cast downward, mouth gently closed, jaws at ease, not clenched.

After the silence, I ask myself, what do I want the donor to feel? What can I say to foster that feeling? And then I start writing, allowing myself the freedom to not have it be perfect the first time.

I often add to my process one or two phone interviews with a client, a staff member or a volunteer, asking them their view of our nonprofit’s work at that time.

These steps bring liveliness and freshness to my donor appeals, thank-you letters, and emails that would otherwise be lacking. And that correspondence usually raises more.

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

I thank you for being part of LAPA’s growing “higher-profit” community. I hope our work has been helpful in your life during this challenging year, and we are so grateful for your partnership. As always, I welcome your input. What’s your experience of reinstating a deeper sense of gratitude into your donor communications? Please post your experience on our blog.

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