Effective Donor Communication Is Personalized

Dale Carnegie once said, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

That’s why, after thirty years of studying what works in marketing, we continue to come back to simple theme: personalize, personalize, personalize.

As a fundraiser, you’ll have many choices on how to personalize your donor communication: personalize the subject line of your email and the greeting in your email. On calls, you can intentionally use a donor’s first name.

But today, I want to talk about a very specific one: Personalized URLs (PURLs).

example of website header with a PURL

Two main reasons stand out as to why PURLs are such a powerful tool for effective donor communication.

  1. They make a much faster connection with the donor.
  2. PURLS allow fundraisers to track important information about your donors so you can understand them better.

PURLs make a much faster connection with the donor.

Imagine if you received an email or a postcard with a link on it. When you click/type in the link, you arrive on a page with a header like the puppy image above.

The image, along with the personalized name, immediately makes an emotional connection. WHY? Because it’s personalized. And personalization is the KEY to effective donor communication.

PURLs allow you to track important information about your donors.

PURLs give your donors the feeling of being known and valued. Plus, they help you track how donors interact with your content.

Data tracking is crucial to understanding where a supporter is on their prospect-to-donor journey. With accurate data, you set yourself up to have even more effective donor communication in the future.


example of effective donor communication PURL on postcard

Real-world Example: Grand Rapids Community Foundation

Here’s a real-world example of how personalized messages helped the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

The Challenge:

Grand Rapids Community Foundation told us they have a really good handle on the technical aspects of planned giving. They had gift plans that fit the needs of their donors.

However, they serve a very diverse donor base with different philanthropic interests. Donors might support the arts, education, preservation, or health-and-welfare causes through the community foundation.

So, it’s a challenge to craft effective donor communication with a marketing message that resonates with all their best planned giving prospects.

Traditionally, direct marketers were limited to a ‘one-size-fits-all’ message.

But copy that speakes to everyone often results in a message that speaks to no one.

We worked with Grand Rapids Community Foundation to engage donors with messaging that was tailored to each segment of their donor base. Now, they could speak to donors on a more personal level.

effective donor communication in newsletter

The Solution:

Grand Rapids Community Foundation already had great branding and compelling content. PGM leveraged these assets to implement a story-based, multi-channel marketing campaign. We spoke to donors through direct mail, email and landing pages – and then elevated the communication with one-to- one personalization.

Using data from the foundation’s donor files, PGM tailored messages to reflect each donor’s individual giving history:

  • We wove data into the stories, such as the number of years they had been giving to the Foundation and their areas of support.
  • The marketing pieces addressed donors by name and thanked them for their specific years of support
  • Donors saw again how their personal support benefits their community.

The CTA guided them to a personalized landing page via a PURL, where they were greeted by name a nd offered an opportunity to download useful information and provide feedback. Their response created actionable leads for the planned giving team at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

Personalization doesn’t have to be complicated. Even in it’s simplicity, it’s a highly effective way to improve donor communication!

When you recognize a donor’s loyal giving and targeted support is a strategic way, it feels like you’re paying attention … and it definitely prompts attention in return.

If you want help making your donor communication more effective, call PGM at 484-680-7600.

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