A few weeks ago, my car was making strange clunking noises, especially when I was driving at low speeds and changing gear.
This worried me, not just because I was pretty sure that cars aren’t supposed to do that (though I’m no expert) but mainly because I was anxious about what I was going to say when I got to the garage.
As I say, I’m no expert on cars. In fact, I’m not very interested in them. But they are useful in getting me from A to B.
And I was concerned that if I was to take my car to the garage and tell them ‘my car is making clunking noises’ they would just laugh at me.
I needn’t have worried. As I hesitantly began explaining the noises, the chap at the service desk whipped out a check-list of potential sounds that the customer could have reported. Sure enough, ‘clunk’ was on there. My sound wasn’t unique. And I could equally have reported hissing, spluttering, or even wheezing!
‘But what’s this story doing in a charity blog?’ I hear you ask. Well, here’s why:
Supporters don’t need to understand the technicalities, but they need to know you do.
So it turns out that my car’s console bushes needed replacing. I didn’t even know such a part existed. When communicating with your charity’s supporters, avoid the jargon when describing what you do. Cut out the acronyms. Avoid the fundraising mechanics. And definitely don’t refer to them as a donor who needs developing. Instead focus on the outcomes of the work they’re making happen. Don’t mention the console bushes in too much detail. They just want less clunking in the world. They’ll get you from A to B.
You have to see the world from your supporter’s perspective.
That sound effect check-list is the key thing here. How can you find out what your supporters are actually interested in or concerned about? Ask them. Listen to them. Your fundraising will be much more effective if you focus on their needs and motivations. Why would they want to support you? What can you fix from their perspective?
Put your supporter at ease. They came to the right place.
This was a key part of the garage experience for me. They explained why the console bushes were important, in terms I could understand. And when I picked the car up I happened to speak to the mechanic who had worked on it. This was important for me, because it lifted the divide between service desk and workshop. And if fundraisers and marketeers in charities are the service desk, remember that supporters will often prefer to speak to the people in the workshop – the ones who deliver the work they’re interested in.
So there you have it. A charity supporter just wants to help your charity get from A to B, and trusts that you are the right people to fix it. Charities are garages.
I hope that’s not too clunking a metaphor.