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Thursday, January 18, 2018

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Steal the studs off these XDC examples... The perfect donor newsletter?
Tom Ahern

May, 2015

How likely is it that one of the world's most donor-centered newsletters comes out of a small, local charity in the Berkshires? And a literacy charity in Milwaukee blows the doors off the envelope teaser? See for yourself, below.





Executive director, Ginger Duiven, came up with this perfectly donor-adoring envelope for the Literacy Services newsletter, a stellar and life-changing mission (non-readers become readers) in Wisconsin (with a home page worth studying, too, BTW).


But that's not all: Beauteous Berkshires donor newsletter tags every base


Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) has a BIG vision: a regional network of trails connecting all the protected lands in this breathtaking western Massachusetts county.


BNRC's vision echoes popular European models, where it's possible to hike for hundreds of unbroken miles through rural landscape and villages, following marked public routes and trails. BNRC has even invented a word to describe its vision:





Why you're not like BNRC


BNRC practices XDC: Extreme Donor-Centricity.


XDC goes beyond accepting that a donor focus will improve retention, longevity and hence LTV (lifetime value, Adrian Sargeant's topmost metric).


XDC means your organization changes the way it typically talks ... especially in high-visibility, high-visitation, high-impact locations such as newsletter envelopes and headlines.


The BNRC donor newsletter comes in this seasonally-relevant envelope: 



The writer/editor of the donor newsletter is BNRC president, Tad Ames.


Tad is an ex-newsman and Yale grad. And he not only drank the Kool-Aid on donor-centricity ... he stole the pitcher, the glasses, and the tray they came on.


I have never seen a more thoroughly XDC newsletter than Tad's latest issue. It's as good as Jeff Brook's best newsletter work for national mega-charities.


Yet BNRC is small and local. And Tad's a newbie to donor comms, not a 25-year vet. 


Headlines elephant-trumpet the donor's role. Leads repeatedly and gratefully remind, "Your support ... your support ... your support ...."  





NOTE TO SELF: Offers are easy to spot. 


In a world where most "readers" are really skimmers, making offers simple and visual will increase your response rates.


This "mark your calendar" ad, shown below, looks like a Wyeth painting ... maybe apropos in an artsy, horsy vacation region where upper-class second homes (and tastes) are massively influential. 




NOTE TO SELF: Offers eagerly invite donor participation. 


Dr. Adrian Sargeant's research identified seven "loyalty factors" ... reasons why donors stick with you rather than finding some more interesting charity to give to.


One of these loyalty factors is what Dr. S. calls "multiple engagements." I.e., the more things that donors do, the more loyal they remain to your char



In May, at the 2015 Mid-America AFP conference in Des Moines (brilliant conference, BTW), I listened rapt as Jay Wilkinson, CEO of Firespring, spoke about six key "retention drivers" that deliver better LTV.


One of his drivers? "Drip-feed" your donors "mission performance" information.


Just as BNRC does in this photo caption, in a story about a pending land acquisition:


The BNRC newsletter painstakingly makes clear why donor support is indispensable.


And Tad puts a coupon box around it! Coupon boxes are magic wands. They are an old-school newspaper trick which reliably raises your "readership" (the people who pay attention to something) 10-20%.



The reply envelope/gift device doesn't quit:   

BNRC is ever-evolving. They're building out their base. They have a capital campaign underway. Their donor comms are well worth following, if you're a pro looking for a successful role model that's done in-house.


If you'd like to invest in professional development, donate a modest sum to BNRC to receive their newsletter. Here you go.


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