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4 Surefire Ways to Get Your Donors’ Attention

4 Surefire Ways to Get Your Donors’ Attention

To err is human, to forgive, divine.

The email went out to the potential clients that I had been marketing for the past six months. I had read and re-read the email to be sure it was accurate, clear, and concise.

Have you ever hit the “send” button and immediately wished that you could un-send it? Well, this email was one of those—to countless people! My heart sank with the feeling that my hard work had just gone down the drain and into the dreaded email dungeon.

What did I do that was so egregious? I had been testing using mail merge on emails. I was quite proficient at it with Microsoft Word. I uploaded a list of people’s names and email addresses and thought I hit the “test”. Only there was no such choice as “test”. Instead, it went to everyone on my email list and looked like this:

Dear “Sir/Madame” (Insert name here),

The world’s worst spam begins just like that and if you are like me, you DELETE. I had been trying to demonstrate that I was competent, skilled and someone they would want to work with. Now, I imagine they felt like I was spamming them!

After I regained my composure, I wrote a new email that said, “To err is human, to forgive is divine. I have forgiven my computer for the last email that it sent to you.”

I immediately received two emails saying that they loved the humor and wanted to work with me. I booked both as new clients. Amazingly, I didn’t get any nastygrams for my email faux pas!

That was a lesson to me. What I thought was a disaster (and could have been in some people’s eyes), I was able to turn around with a little humor. They laughed at my email and felt connected to me.

How could we use a similar idea to help our donors and potential donors smile and feel like they want to connect with us?

1. Photos—if you have been trying to connect with a donor and haven’t heard back, send them an unusual photo. For instance, there is a huge piece of machinery that was uncovered when contractors were excavating for a new building near my house. Their curiosity will get the best of them, and they will remember you and possibly contact you.

If you are curious about this photo, it is a piece of equipment was used for irrigation for farming. I was able to connect it to the local historical society. See if you can take a photo that connects to your nonprofit.

2. Funny story—Do you have a funny story—that you tell your friends—about something that happened to you? If it is appropriate, share it with your potential donors. It will help them connect with you on a personal level. Then it will be so much easier to talk about your nonprofit because they now have a deeper relationship with you.

3. Send them something in the mail—Dr. Marie Kaye, a neuroscientist, said that when someone receives a physical gift from us, that oxytocin levels will rise. Oxytocin is a chemical that is released in our brain and linked to increased levels of social interaction, well-being and anti-stress effects. It is especially powerful when they are meeting you for the first time. They will connect with you on a “new”-rological (pardon the pun) level.

4. Virtual silent auctionZGIVE offers nonprofits a simple, smart auction fundraising platform for virtual, hybrid or in-person events. Our solution includes AI-powered donor intelligence to help nonprofits understand their donor demographics, interests and predictive giving capacity.

“There was almost no effort required. ZGIVE provided the platform and the auction items. All we needed to do was promote the auction to bidders and then just sit back, enjoy and raise money.”
Reid Cox, Co-Founder/CFO of iFoster

Let’s all make a promise to each other that instead of sending the same boring newsletter, email, snail-mail letter or appeal letter, that we will find something fun and interesting to send. You may discover that it is more enjoyable for you too when your oxytocin kicks in and you imagine the other person receiving it.

Would you like to learn more about ZGIVE's simple, smart digital auction platform? Visit and book a free demo today!

Guest Blogger, Robin Thompson, is a professional fundraising consultant, trainer and coach. Robin managed over $17 million in assets as Executive Director at a university. As Vice President of a prominent foundation in Vail, Colorado, Robin and her staff were responsible for raising over $10 million annually. She successfully designed and implemented a $3.9 million Comprehensive Campaign and closed two debt reduction campaigns, each one raising several million dollars in less than one year. Robin has built endowments from less than $100,000 to over $2 million in short periods as well.


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