I admire  a wonderful nonprofit in my hometown of Portland, Oregon that seems to be doing great work in the community.   I learned of the organization when I met their fundraising manager through a networking event. She made a  great presentation, and it got me excited about the work they do.. I handed her my business card and asked her to stay in touch and to put me on their mailing list so I could learn more --- and of course potentially become a donor. 

Silence.  For over six months, I didn’t hear anything from the organization..

Last week, I received a white manila folder from this organization with an appeal letter and  printed signatures from the Chair of the Board and the Executive Director.  No handwritten note at the top, no hand written signature.    A large brochure accompanied the sterile letter describing the organizaton's   services.

I didn’t read the appeal letter, and in spite of the captivating photo on the front of the brochure of children,  I didn’t read any of the content that was  laid out in 8 point font in tiny dense blocks of copy,  within the brochure.    Myeyes are just too old for this tiny print, and I didn’t know where to begin reading.

Too Much Information, Too Little Emotion.

A simple message with emotion draws us in.  Wordy descriptions, perhaps written by well-intentioned and educated academics in the nonprofit world, turn us off.  I’m just too busy. My guess is that you are, too. I don’t care about the details right now.  That can come later.  You need to hook me with clear, emotional and succinct messages that intrigue me, provoke me, compel me to want to learn more.

There are many wonderful nonprofits in Oregon, but after this experience, I sadly will not be donating to this one.  If their marketing fails to take into account my needs and treats me like a robot  vs a person, I worry about their ability to engage with their clients.  Probably an inaccurate assumption, but my perception. 

Please, don’t make this mistake.