Your Dual Message Pillars Should Be Bookends
May 8, 2023
Kevin Schulman, Founder, DonorVoice and DVCanvass
If you take nothing else from this post, take this: an awful lot is known about your donors.
Too often we think we know very little. Consequently, we believe tailoring messages to who they are is seemingly impossible. Sadly, this means everyone gets the same thing.
Taxonomy is the science of naming, describing and classifying. In most fundraising, the donor message taxonomy is something akin to the graphic below. We put our respective versions of fundraising best practice into action against what’s known, usually only the brand, issues and programs of the organization.
This taxonomy is akin to categorizing the physical world as solid or liquid and calling it a day.
Here’s a fuller Donor Taxonomy:
- Organizational brand: It matters and largely determines what donor Identities are on your file. In this example, a Military Identity fits the brand.
- Identity: A version of ourselves. We each have lots of identities. Our separate Identities have separate values and goals. A big part of fundraising messaging is showing the donor that supporting the charity is in keeping with their values.
- Personality. Not all people in a given Identity are the same. Different personalities require different messaging if we care about showing em’ we know em’.
- Moral Lens: A lot of charitable giving involves people making a moral judgement. Is supporting this cause the right thing to do? Different Personality types tend to use different moral lenses for different charities.
- Emotion: “Make it emotional.” This dictum isn’t very useful. Emotion is more refined and shouldn’t be left to guesswork. There are certain emotions that work better with certain moral frames.
Here’s a real example. You can follow the paint by numbers color coding to see how damn near every word was selected to match this unique donor messaging profile (the one highlighted in green). To some fundraisers this might seem too complicated. I’d argue it simplifies. It constrains choices by providing detailed guidance.
It’s paint by numbers vs. a blank canvass. The concern you should always have with the blank canvass approach is producing an abstract masterpiece and half your audience wanting bowl of fruit realism.
With this approach, you can paint your way to both versions.
Move your two, message pillars to bookends with three steps to get a richer, better and, dare we say it, more donor-centric approach. The 3 steps,
- Know the science behind human decision making. This taxonomy provides it.
- Know that each, unique combination of messages creates a formula and detailed roadmap for messaging success.
- Know that in each of these unique message formulas there’s a set of 2nd party (e.g., Facebook data) or 3rd party data to use as proxy for segment creation. For mere pennies on the dollar, you can use other people’s data to create messaging that matches donor motivation creating a veritable bookshelf of success.