This post comes from the Gravyty Fundraising Academy, a series that examines how fundraisers adapt and strategize to evolve what's possible through philanthropy.
Your guide for the Gravyty Fundraising Academy is Director of Customer Success, Lisa Alvezi. Lisa has worked with countless fundraisers across Higher Education, Health Care, and Nonprofit organizations to transform fundraising. As a former frontline fundraiser herself, her goal is to help you see better results from your fundraising efforts.
Frontline fundraisers are passionate and have a lot to say about their causes. As a result, the temptation is natural to squeeze as much information into a single communication as possible.
I’ve seen emails that go on for days, letters that are stacked and single-spaced, and “quick phone calls” that are truly intended to last 45 minutes. Fight these urges!
Here’s why. NYU, MIT, and BU researchers teamed up and found that shorter messages increase “information metabolism,” or more productive outcomes from communication and faster decisions or responses. When these researchers presented examples of email outreach to an executive audience — one focused and one rambling — many executives were quick to point out that they would simply delete the rambling message.
For this reason, before I press send, dial a number, or put pen to paper, I always ask myself “is this message short enough?” Here’s the shortness test that I apply to my messages. I encourage you to give it a try and adapt it yourself.
Write & Visually Frame Your Message
Whether it’s in a notes app, my email, or scribbled into a notebook, I always want to “see” what my message looks like. Can I judge my outreach based on the way it looks? Knowing that the longer it is, the less likely it will be read or responded to, the main body of my message should more or less fit inside the space I create when I bring my hands together to frame a picture.
If the message fits — great! I proofread and begin my outreach.
If it needs some cutting, I look for the areas that get into the weeds and might be better presented in follow-up conversations. I take particular focus at the top of the message. Am I rambling into my reason for reaching out or getting straight to the point?
This quick visual usually keeps me honest and short. So, if your goal is to see more results from your touchpoints with donors and prospects, pay attention to how it looks.
If you’d like to learn more about how artificial intelligence can empower your fundraising staff to act as 2-3x its size, personally reach new donors, and inspire giving at scale, click the button below and let's connect.