The world of instant mass communications has turned many the message into mush!
Words, words, words….. sounds like Eliza Doolittle singing "Show Me", right?
Your audience is a not a homogeneous group. Your audience is particular people and that makes the difference!
Don’t panic. I’m not suggesting that you do individual letters, although I would really like that. I’m suggesting that you think about the following three questions that will help you improve your communications.
1.How familiar is your audience with your topic or subject matter? It may be difficult to segment your audience by their knowledge – you might not even know what they know, or think they know. It is better to be a bit repetitive than to assume knowledge. If they don’t know what you are talking about, they won’t admit it and won’t read it. So err on the side of short, simple explanations of your message, even if you think they already know it all.
2.Why do they care about the topic? Just because you think this is a very important topic doesn’t mean that they think it is. You can engage them best if you point out why it matters to them...without being too “preachy” and make them feel like a 4-year-old. A clue to figuring that out is to think about the benefits they may receive because of their action … whatever it is you are asking them to do.
3.What do you want them to feel or do after hearing from you? Can’t tell you how many great communications I have read from my clients that never include a call to action! It’s amazing that anything happens if you don’t let your reader know what you would like her to do after reading your communication. News is nice, but we all get way too much of it, everywhere. Stories are the best, but telling them misses the mark if you don’t point out why you are telling the story. The call to action isn’t always “send us money.” There are many other ways to have the reader do something that could help you. Let me know if you’re stumped on what those might be.
Now when you’ve finished your communication, put yourself in your audiences’ shoes and ask, “Are you talking to me?”
For more nonprofit administration and management tips, as well as nonprofit funding and endowment development, subscribe to Endowment Development Institute's Newsletter here.