A few days ago I wrote a blog about the first of a recent string of messages I received from an organization after going to a few of their concerts. You can read my full synopsis of the email here, but I’ll give you a quick highlight to catch you up.

My wife and I recently attended a concert at a nonprofit venue (which was an amazing concert), marking the 2nd time within a month we attended a show there – the 4th time overall.

At that point, the organization should have had a decent record of our engagement with them. However, in the week following the show, we received 4 separate invitations from 3 separate people/departments to engage with the organization further.

Here’s the email they sent me after attending that 2nd concert within the recent month:

sample email from nonprofit that missed its mark

Recap of the issues I had: the subject seemed spammy, there was no introduction or context for who was emailing me, they treated me like I didn’t go to the concert (even though I did), and what the email was offering was super unclear.

Alright – caught up? Here’s what happened next.

Voicemail from a mysterious fundraiser

Two days after receiving this email, the same person called me and left a voicemail identifying himself as “Fred from Sound City Strings”. He asked if I got his email and wanted to see if he could help me purchase more tickets.

Listening to this voicemail, I was kind of shocked. Here were my thoughts.

First, I had almost no context for this phone call. Sure, I received that initial email, but I hadn’t really read it at the point of the call. So when I get a voicemail from Fred, telling me he’s from Sound City Strings and wants to help me buy tickets, I didn’t know really who this guy was or why he wants me to buy tickets. He assumed I was on the same page as him without inquiring at all.

Second (and again), the offer was unclear in the first place. I had no idea what he was trying to get me to do from that first email. And since I just went to 2 shows recently, I definitely wasn’t ready to buy tickets to 3 more shows.

Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?

This prompts me yet again to urge you: Know Thy Donor! Even with such a poorly composed initial email, Fred could have made up for it with his call.

Instead of giving me just a first name and trying to sell me tickets, Fred could have asked if I enjoyed the recent concert I attended.

Fred could have asked if I got his email, opened it, or even knew who he was or that he sent the email.

Fred could have recapped what the email was saying, and then – after all this time trying to get to know me – then he could have reminded me of the email offer and delivered his ask.

Does this sound simple? Well, it is.

Yet despite how simple it is to communicate contextually with constituents, so many of us are guilty of ignoring context. Use your software and online tools to your advantage: research and get to know your donors, then segment and reach out with background information as your ammo. You’ll never miss the target.

After the phone call came a mailer. More on that next time. Until then, read the last blog covering my synopsis of this org’s email. Or, you can download my Persona-Based Marketing ebook to learn ways you can accurately and effectively interact with your donors.


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