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Different Segments? Different Words!

Something I don’t talk about nearly enough is the “tone” of an appeal. I’ve been thinking about this, especially in relation to the audience—your donors.

Since donors are likely to give when contributing to that which is meaningful to them in a personal way, consider customizing your appeal language so they can link giving to your cause to who they are as individuals.

Think about it: men and women react differently to certain words in appeals. When appeals use words like “kind and compassionate” women increase their giving. When men read words like “strong,” “responsible,” and “loyal,” they give more (Jen Shang, Psychology of Giving).

So, when you’re putting your text together, think carefully about the donor base you’re addressing. Who is your target audience? Some key words may very well be more appropriate to use than others when it comes to motivating your supporters to give.

Personally, I’m convinced that writing an appeal is more important than it’s ever been. It’s your job to create asks that are both compelling and engaging. They have to stand apart from those that simply promote their cause. Creating the right message, with the right words has power. It can attract new donors, retain their support, and result in increased giving.

Here’s an example from a Grateful Patient Campaign excerpt of what I’m talking about:

Dear First Name,

You came to NAME OF HOSPITAL as a patient, in need of help. You trusted us and for that we are profoundly grateful. Now, we humbly turn to you, to ask for your help. Because NAME OF HOSPITAL provides excellent health care, right here in our community, we need local champions who will consider making a gift of $___________in response to the excellent health care they received.

I wish I could say that I had written the above, but I didn’t. What I know about it though, is that it’s been sent to former patients for the last 10 years with only slight adjustments. There have been gifts sent for as little as $1 to as much as $20,000. There have been over 10,000 new donors brought in from this appeal.

I think it’s a great example of connecting the appeal to the individual’s perception of who they are. In this case, a past patient grateful for the care he or she received and a potential champion for others.

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