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3 Expert Tips for Writing Winning Donor Communications in 2024


Hands holding up a 2024 sign with a blue overlay and white text featuring the blog post title.

Continuing with the theme of the 2020’s, I think we can all look back at 2023 and collectively say, “I did not see that coming.” ChatGPT rolled out at the end of 2022 and hit mainstream users throughout every industry over the past 12 months. For writers, this has impacted everything we do, from brainstorming to distribution. 


In fact, that’s why two out of three of our writing predictions for 2024 are a direct result of AI use. And actually before we were debating the definition of “original content,” we were (hopefully) becoming more mindful of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.


Thus, given the accelerated growth in these areas, there's an emerging, and rapidly widening, disparity between organizations prioritizing the application of these concepts vs. those resistant to change. 


(Now’s a good time to refer to your copy of T-Rexes vs. Kangaroos by the OG of DRG, Lynne Wester. Spoiler alert: It does not end well for T-Rexes.)


Successful Writing in 2024 

Let me be the first to say these predictions are more than trends. They are seismic shifts, designed to leave a permanent footprint. Whether or not you agree with the direction this is headed is irrelevant—the train has left the station. 


1. Inclusive Storytelling This is of increasing importance and we’ll all see more of it, as we should.  In the Wild Inclusivity looks like:

  • Considering all the different cultural values and motivations for giving.

  • Avoiding stereotypes and/or assumptions about any group.

  • Using images and visuals that represent a wide range of individuals and communities.

  • Include data and stories that demonstrate how your work benefits different groups.

  • Staying up-to-date on inclusive language.

We’ll discuss this in greater detail in our upcoming Ethical Storytelling webinar. In the meantime, here are some additional resources:


CAUTION: Do NOT Insert Foot in Mouth


Knowing which language not to use is just as important as knowing which language you should use.


In case your inner monologue occasionally echoes the sentiments of the porch-sitting, 'get-off-my-lawn' old man grumbling, “Our society has gone too far with this political correctness!” …let me be the first to say, this is not just the smarter thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. 


By embracing inclusive narratives, nonprofits not only uphold ethical standards of diversity and representation, but also significantly broaden their reach and impact. 


When someone feels remotely triggered, an alarm of internal noise begins to sound, creating a barrier between your reader and the ultimate message you intend to convey. 


Removing potentially polarizing terms (i.e. ‘underprivileged,’ ‘urban,’ or even ‘vulnerable’) allows your message to resonate with a wider audience. Setting ourselves up to foster deeper connections leads to deeper donor engagement and potentially increased support. 


Takeaway

Ultimately, inclusivity in communication is a powerful tool for amplifying the effectiveness and reach of an organization's mission.


2. Personality-led Growth:  Everyone is on the AI bandwagon and it shows. AI is helping us do more with less, which means that more people will be using it to crank out communications—and we’re here for it! 


Cookie-Cutter Communications on the Rise

However, this also means that as AI tools become more widely used for generating content, there's a potential for a lack of distinctiveness in messaging. 


AI algorithms, especially when used with default settings or without meaningful customization, can produce a product that is accurate and grammatically correct, but lacks the unique flair or personalized touch that differentiates one organization from another. 


This can lead to a landscape of undifferentiated and generic content, losing the individual character and unique voice that connects with specific audiences. This phenomenon is referred to as content homogenization. 


Since the overall trend of AI use will lead to homogeneity of content, we predict that organizations having a distinct personality will have an advantage in 2024.


Your Org IRL Personality-led growth is poised to become a cornerstone for successful writing in the nonprofit sector. This approach isn't just about standing out; it's about forging a genuine connection with your audience. 


As AI-generated content becomes more prevalent, the uniqueness of an organization's voice becomes even more critical. Nonprofits that can infuse their communications with a distinct personality—one that reflects their voice, values, and the communities they serve—will engage more effectively with their supporters. 


Since this topic needs more attention than we can offer in one blog post, we are hosting a more comprehensive walk-through of how to define and refine your organizational identity in our upcoming webinar on Building a Brand Voice.

Takeaway

It's about creating narratives that resonate on a personal level, making supporters feel they are part of a story rather than mere observers. This strategy goes beyond the mechanics of writing; it's about embracing the art of storytelling to build a community around your cause.


3. Data-Driven Storytelling:

Because of AI, digesting and translating large data sets will be easier and more accessible than ever before. We’ll see more organizations embracing this as nonprofit SaaS (Software as a Service) companies enhance related functionality. 


In other words, we’ll know more about our donors and our beneficiaries, making for some great storytelling content.


Beneficiary Insights

Consider how you can use a platform like ChatGPT4 to analyze large non-proprietary datasets. This is probably most useful for gathering insights on your beneficiary population via external resources like raw census data


Combing through to find the highlights on a 73-column .csv file can be tedious and time-consuming. So, allow AI to do the heavy lifting for you. Upload that file to the platform and have it work its magic with a good prompt!


Once you have data points that seem compelling, make it personal. You can use your own creativity to develop a story around it, or you can ask an LLM (large language model like ChatGPT or Bard) for an assist.


Here is something we crafted for the San Antonio Area Foundation to drive home the prevalence of childhood poverty in their communities: 


Within the heart of the hospital nursery, 10 sleeping newborns peacefully begin their journey in our world. All healthy. All born into loving families. All with the innate capacity for greatness.


Yet, by virtue of their families’ zip codes, 3 of these infants are poised to begin life with an opportunity deficit.


Behind this illustration lies a sobering reality: 110,321 children in Bexar County live in poverty.


This staggering statistic is why we have assembled a dynamic collective of changemakers taking on the challenge of…


Now, I love a good infographic, but pairing it with a compelling narrative certainly paints the full picture. 


Donor Insights

You may have started seeing your CRM integrate some user-facing AI components. These tools can analyze donor behaviors, preferences, and engagement patterns. These are the things that will definitely require sussing out with your info management team before integrating. 


The industry still has some ways to go before we experience truly remarkable improvement in our donor-data insights, so consider this a Q4 CY24 prediction.


Nonprofits don’t have a history of being early adopters of technology for a combination of practical reasons—exercising prudence around data security, the multi-level approval process, and funding. 


Considering the slow moving pace of nonprofits, you’re probably wondering why I’m bullish on this prediction given our traditional pace. That is because the rapid rate of AI-accelerated growth is unprecedented compared to past advancements. So a milestone that would have taken us years to accomplish in a pre-AI world, may be achievable in a matter of months or even weeks.

Takeaway

You can start leveraging AI tools to illuminate compelling data points from external data sources today


We are cautiously optimistic about the opportunities to enhance storytelling with donor insights in a transformational way.


Oh—one more thing. Because it can’t be stated enough, please remember to always exercise data security and privacy for all our sakes.


Bonus: Some Writing-Adjacent Tips


As we were putting our crystal ball back on the shelf, it illuminated two additional tips that we want to share with you:

  1. Budget

  2. Imagination Meets Intellect

 

Get ahead of this cultural shift with our 4-part webinar series: Data-Driven Decision Making in Donor Relations


Disclaimer: Much like large-language models of generative AI, crystal balls occasionally experience hallucinations, but the Donor Relations Group remains confident in these predictions nonetheless. 


Madelyn is passionate about helping nonprofits create communications that cut through the clutter and capture the attention of donors. 



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