Last week I wrote about being prepared to pivot in 2020. One of the items I didn’t focus on is how we communicate and the changes that have transpired over the years.
What I’ve observed, which may be an outcome of cell phone use and texting, is an increasing move to abbreviated communications. Numerous organizations now use acronyms or initials rather than full names. The donors and prospective donors with whom we communicate are assailed by messages so we feel compelled to keep our missives brief.
What’s a nonprofit to do when you want to pivot and use communication that will have an impact but is clear and concise? Consider the Wordle.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term a wordle is a sort of word cloud. You have most likely seen a wordle. They look like a creation by modern era painter Jackson Pollock. It is as though Pollock pulled back his paintbrush, flicked it at the canvas, and splattered words in an interesting pattern.
The words are oriented in different directions but at the same time are all generally readable. They also tend to be varying sizes and sometimes shapes and the colors vary as well, making the visual more interesting.
It’s pretty easy to create a wordle or word cloud, you can take an existing list and copy it into a platform, click a button and there you have it, a wordle. Sound easy, doesn’t it?
That would be the case if it were easy to choose the words to include in the Wordle. One needs to consider who will help to choose the words to include. Will you use only those terms which are common internally or use donor-centric language?
Consider the language used around legacy giving, e.g. planned giving, estate gift, etc. Dr. Russell James who teaches at Texas Tech has been at the forefront of providing actionable information about the language that resonates with donors (Spoiler Alert: Planned giving is not a term that resonates!). You will find actionable information from Dr. James on the MarketSmart website.
In 2018 Legacy Voice, in collaboration with faculty from the University of Plymouth (including Dr. Adrian Sargeant), issued Everything Research Can Tell Us About Legacy Giving in 2018. That report also speaks to wording that donors might want to hear. If your 2020 includes a focus on planned giving I highly recommend both of these resources to you.
Note: Wordles may not work well with the eldest of your prospective donors. Be sure to consider the font size, type, color, and organization of the words. Word clouds may be a better tool to use with prospective donors that are in their 50s and 60s (and yes, I would be marketing to 50 and 60 year-olds particularly if they do not have children).
If you were going to create a wordle designed to invite a donor to consider a legacy gift what words would you include?
To which professionals do you turn for advice about planned giving marketing?
I look forward to hearing from you because we can all learn from one another.
Sophie Penney is the President of i5 Fundraising.