This post is Part 1 in a series about donor centric approach in fundraising. Click here for Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

“Donor-centric fundraising” has become ubiquitous language in our industry, part of every publication, webinar and conference. Yet, like every change, it’s taking time to shift the focus of our fundraising copy. If it were simply a matter of a formula that says that our text needs to use the word “you” X percentage of time, that would be easy.

But instead, we have to start thinking like our donor, not like a nonprofit employee or a consultant to a nonprofit fundraising team.

The reality is, we simply know too much. We have seen the good, the bad and the mediocre. We’ve come a long way from that first day on the job when the acronyms everyone else threw around left us confused; now we can sling the acronyms with the best of ‘em!

So how do we start talking the language of our donors? After all, they represent different regions of the country, walks of life, educational backgrounds and life experiences.

One thing is constant among our donors: they want to achieve something meaningful. They want to know that when they click the “Donate Now” button, write a check or pull out their credit card to give, something they care passionately about is going to be addressed and hopefully solved. They may not be able to do it all, but they want to do something. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to “be the change.”

So our first job as fundraisers is to tell them what they can – and what they did – accomplish. It’s not, “With your gift, we are…” Instead, it’s all about what the donor is doing. Consider these two opening paragraphs of a thank you letter:

Traditional Approach:

Thank you for your gift of $50. With your support, we are continuing our proven work to help end the growing epidemic of homelessness among single mothers in Metropolis.

Donor-Centric Approach:

Tonight, a mom and her children will go to bed knowing they are safe. Instead of curling up in their car or finding a park where they can spread a blanket, they are resting in a comfortable bed. And that’s because you made it possible for XYZ Nonprofit to invite them to come into a shelter instead of staying on the streets.

In future postings, we’ll look at specific language that can help you acquire a new donor, thank all donors and build a relationship that can lead to additional gifts. Because words matter…