“The One Thing” — Connecting with Your Constituents through the “Clutter”

Dawn Bell

Dawn has worked in the nonprofit sector most of her professional life, where she developed a penchant for event planning. Second only to her love of logistics, is fundraising where she believes creating relationships is the key component for successful partnerships. Additionally, she believes that volunteering is the cornerstone of a strong community and volunteers regularly.

From the comfortable surroundings of your home, it may be hard to imagine how much is stirring in the minds of your donors, volunteers, and staff.  While you worry over how to retain their interest, they’re worrying over how they can stay involved with you among the myriad things they need to do to navigate this situation. They care about what happens to you and your agency, but knowing what to do is another matter.

Much of this time is spent in conjecture, but there is a sure-fire way to find out what is happening and what your usual audience is thinking: poll them. Simple online polls are easy to set up and to track. They offer the ease of contact without a torrent of words that so many of our messages riddled with these days.

We’re all in “information overload” mode and seem to be constantly reading. We’re trying so hard to keep up and share information that we can easily forget that sometimes simple is better. We know what’s going on: we just don’t know when it will end, and in the interim, a kind of nebulous abyss keeps shifting our focus by the hour. 

So, let’s stop. Just totally stop for one minute and ask yourself a question:

What is the most important thing – the one thing – my organization needs to ensure its continuance?

Don’t go and get all verbiage heavy in answering this either. Think slowly and clearly and write out your response in a single sentence. Discard the variables and hone your answer down to its barest essentials. Think of it as a kind of meditation in the face of an unknowable end-date.

Once you’ve uncovered the “one thing,” make it shine. Your constituents are overwhelmed by needs and deeds right now, so your message should be clear and focused so that your followers can easily see and understand what you are asking.   

We’ve seen examples of this in many online campaigns in the last few weeks. Animal shelters have told us quickly and succinctly that we need to adopt now. Food banks have provided precise lists of goods needed now. 

So, what’s the one thing you need? 

Does your agency need a vehicle for transporting people in need? Do you need a specific amount of money to ensure your doors stay open? Are you trying to locate a grant source for operational funding? It doesn’t matter what the one thing is — it only matters that you focus on it as your primary message. Use the opportunity of #GivingTuesdayNow taking place on May 5 as your springboard for your ask. 

Join us for a Flash Fundraising webinar this Friday, May 1.  It may very well be the impetus you need to hone your needs message. Click here to learn more: https://cvnl.org/event/webinar-flash-fundraising-tips/