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Get Personal to Get (and Stay) Relevant


Getting personal in your communications is the first step in building strong and long-term relationships with donors—current and prospective.

Here's how to do it...

Personal Is a Two-Way Street

Typically, we think of getting personal as a one-way street. Your organization learns all it can about the folks you hope to engage to move your mission forward, and uses those insights to:

  • Personalize communications to bond by integrating the first names of your community members in salutations, subject lines and the like
  • Customize communications to increase relevance by:
  • Segmenting your list, breaking out members by special interest, wants, location or any other combination of selections
  • Using this understanding to deliver focus, content, frequency and tone that's the best fit with each segment's profile

Take It One Step Further - Get Personal Personally to Get More Relevant

It's been proven time and time again that sharing some of oneself speeds relationship-building.

Think of a recent conversation you had -- doesn't have to be work related. When you share something of yourself -- an experience related to the topic of conversation, for example -- that strengthens your growing bond. Your conversational partner gets that you get it (and her)!

Here are some quick ways to put this strategy to work:

  • Unleash the power of your first name: Sign emails and other communications with your first name (as long as your full name is in your email signature).

*Also, consider including a graphic of your signature in bulk emails. No one else's is just like it!

  • Include your name in your email "from line" when you're publishing organizational emails. It's a must for advocacy and fundraising emails; optional for e-newsletters. It's good to know that there's a human there on the other end, and this simple change will make your emails more recognizable in the daily onslaught. (Caveat: Let list members know if you make this change.)
  • Share more of yourself than you currently do, in keeping with the culture of your organization and the preferences of your community. For examples, feature something about your passions or family in your professional bio, and make sure your colleagues do the same (more on strong organizational bios here)

How are you getting personal, and is it helping strengthen your ties with donors and prospects? Please share your story in the comment section below.

Nancy Schwartz Nancy Schwartz

The preceding is a guest post by Nancy Schwartz, Speaker-Author-Strategist, Nancy helps nonprofits like yours succeed through effective marketing. For more nonprofit marketing guidance like this, subscribe to her e-update at

Topics: Communications