One of the facts of life in today’s fundraising climate is that we have many audiences, and they stretch across all generations. 80-year-olds are on Facebook and 16-year-olds want to learn about planned giving. We no longer control the message by tightly selecting who we mail to. Now days our messages are available, and should be, 24/7 to anyone with Internet access.

This is both great and not-so-great. Most nonprofits have experienced the unexpected happiness that comes from getting a gift “out of the blue” from someone who just happened to find you online. But many also know the pain of answering a question from a donor about a message on one platform that doesn’t quite sync with the message on another.

Another challenge is often multiple people control the message of our organization. You may have a digital team, a mail team, a team that does the newsletter, and a totally separate team handling your social media.

Every fundraiser needs to focus on a single question, “Who is my target audience?” The messaging across our organization is likely aimed at multiple target audiences, but fundraisers are focusing on the donor. That means reading everything your organization prints or posts through the filter of the donor’s point of view.

While this doesn’t mean “censoring” everyone else, we need to communicate what we will be talking about (and sometimes, not talking about) so there can be synchrony in messaging. If there is a message that we feel will confuse donors, we need to explain why and be ready to offer suggestions for tweaks to make it more donor-focused. We also need to pick our battles carefully; being flexible most of the time gives you much more leverage when you need something changed to not cause potential harm to donor relationships.

One of the best ways to give others the vision for what you would like to see accomplished overall in corporate messaging as it relates to donors is to willingly – and in an interesting manner – communicate the following two things:

  • Who our donors are. Knowing the kinds of people who support the organization can help others “see” the organization as it might appear to them.
  • What they like to support. This helps other communicators know what messages will likely resonate. (And let’s face it – we all want to have our words read!).

One of our challenges in today’s diverse workplace is to bring together an assortment of people and all move toward the same goal, albeit on different roads. Keeping our donors clearly in view as we travel along can make the journey far more successful.