Is Your Donor Communication as Confusing as a Bad Music Video?

Step one, watch this video by Silent Circle.

Okay, so what the fuck just happened?

There’s a lot going on in this video, and I can’t say a lot of it makes sense. Creepy dude with an ice cream cart? Bad dancing? Poor lip syncing? Strange choreographed dancing? Leather pants? It’s not unlike many other videos from its era, but this one is always a source of hilarity and head scratching.

I have to be honest with you. Often when I open fundraising appeals I receive, this very thought pops into my head.

There are the ones that tell stories that make no sense. Or worse, are boring.

There are ones that mention things that I’m supposed to understand but don’t.

There are the ones that have actually suggested I’m a cheap idiot if I don’t donate.

The self-aggrandizing ones.

The flashy ones with a lot of smoke and flashing lights but no substance.

The ones that leave me asking “what does this have to do with anything and what am I supposed to do with it?”

The bad metaphors and cheap gimmickry?

Silent Circle, indeed. Crickets.

In an attempt to not be boring, shit just got really confusing.

So how do you avoid this?

  1. Have a point. And get to it. Without a clear call for action, your donor won’t know what to do with the information you just gave them.
  2. Start where the donor is, not where you want them to be. You need your donor to understand what it is you’re talking about.
  3. Cut the crap. Strange metaphors, fluffy language and tacky gimmicks are a waste of time.
  4. Stop making yourself the centre of attention. The donor wants to see how she could make a difference, not how cool your hair is.
  5. Tell a good story. Don’t tell boring stories, but also don’t make the reader work so hard to figure out your meaning that they break a sweat (see point 1.)  If you want some ideas about how to stop telling boring stories, check out my session at the Storytelling Nonprofit Virtual Conference next month!

I don’t think I’ve said anything new here. I think we all know this. But for some reason, all too many appeals assault our sensibilities with these missteps.

Need another slice of “WTF” hilarity?

Please watch this.

And then this.

What are some “wtf” moments you’ve had in encountering donor communications?

And what are some of your favourite “wtf” moments from videos?