Dear Jeron: I feel taken for granted. She treats me like an ATM and I don’t even know where the money is going! Her answers are always the same and the messages she sends me are vague. Should I start looking for another relationship?
Dear Donor: It sounds like the love between you would be improved by more meaningful communication. Let her know what you want out of your relationship and ask her specifically how she is spending your money. Find common ground. If she doesn’t listen, you may need to look elsewhere for a new relationship.
So what exactly is contextual communication? In different relationships your tone, extent of shared information, subject matter and perspective changes. In relationship to donors, one size does not fit all. Donors want to know the difference they make, they value relevant information and updates and just like you, they want to know how their gift will impact the people or cause served.
Contextual: ADJECTIVE, of, pertaining to, or depending on the context
Synonyms: circumstantial, dependent, related
Does a visitor to your website have the option to tell you why they are making a gift? If they give $50 do you tell them what impact their gift will make? If the gift is $500 will the impact differ?
In action, contextual communication ensures that a donor’s passion directly relates to your nonprofit message. It gives donors the opportunity to express themselves. The nonprofit has the opportunity to show the donor they are listening. Ultimately, contextual communication shows that a two-way relationship has been established and the donor is much more than a mere transaction.
Contextual communication can be applied to your website forms, thank you letters, eNews, bounce-back cards and phone calls. The most basic question to have answered by your donor is, “Why did you make your gift today?” Gather this most basic of information and refer to it in your communications. You will want to incorporate this information into your database through specific coding and perhaps in full into an area for notes. Once this segmentation exists it will become your best friend and when used in a meaningful way will ensure that your communication is relevant to the wishes of the donor.
Beyond the reason for giving consider collecting the following,
- Program areas of greatest interest
- Communication frequency
- Preferred communication channels (email, text, regular mail, etc.)
In order to be extraordinarily successful you will need to develop and stick to a contextual communication plan. Take Jeron’s advice to listen and contextually communicate with your donors. At a minimum you will engage them to take some form of action, including giving, and you may even experience the ultimate compliment with a social media “share”. Visit the Soft Trac blog next week for strategies to incorporate into a winning contextual communication plan.
Soft Trac is a woman-owned business and accomplished team of nonprofit software consultants. We believe in making nonprofits "do good" better.