It was sparked by the simplest of questions : What’s your name?
Each week I get a report telling me who has been added to the database by anyone. It’s a great way to scan if there are any interesting contacts that other staff have engaged. On this occasion I noticed we are getting an increasing number of e-newsletter sign ups. That’s good of course. The only problem is for many we don’t know the name as to make it quick and easy (which is what people want) we just ask for your email address. Sometimes the name is obvious – but often its a mix of names, nicknames and numbers. On the report they simply are listed as “Supporter”. So I suggested to Grace who deals with all communication to supporters (remit: to inspire) to ask future sign ups for their name, or check we have it right.
Grace went one better. She sent out an email to those who had already signed up but had no clear name. It was the simplest of emails genuinely asking we would really love to know your name so we can address you probably. Then the replies started coming in … and in. Some were from people who had supported us for some time and others from those who had recently become interested. People emailed back not only with their name but why they signed up, what prompted them, and a little about themselves.
“We love what SolarAid does and it is close to my heart because I have worked in Africa” was just one example of the tone in which people replied. “I’ve been blown away how wonderfully clever SolarAid’s mission is” said another.
We also had numerous offers of help from volunteering, to spreading our story and raising funds – there wasn’t an ask in the email!
And many mentioned how they appreciated the email : “What a great email to receive. Whether or not the email is automatically generated it doesn’t feel like it and therefor good to receive“.
Donors are people
So as result of a simple bit of common sense communication we are that bit closer to some great supporters who are clearly interested in hearing from us. It reminds me of the outtake from a post by fundraiser Adrian Salmon I read last week – donors are people. Yet we often forget that and think of them as targets.
So if it works for email what about text giving and anywhere else where that all important first name is missing? After all its probably the one word we all love to hear and read. Our name.