3 Things to Remember about Donor Salutations

Donor Salutations

You sit down to write a thank you note or send an email to one of your donors. You ask yourself, am I close enough to refer to them by their first name? Do I know the proper spelling? How have I addressed them in the past?  Donor salutations are important. You don’t want to mess them up and come off as rude or inconsiderate. A donor might forgive the offense once, but you certainly don’t want to make it a habit, or you could find yourself down a donor…or more.

Here are 3 things to remember about donor salutations:

  1. Spell Check. Spell your donor’s name right.

You’re probably thinking that this is stewardship and donor relationship management 101, and you’re right. But you’d be surprised how often it can happen. Don’t spell your donor’s name wrong. It’s one thing if you mispronounce their name wrong on a phone call. They’ll hopefully correct you and you can move forward {be sure to note the proper pronunciation for next time though}. But if they see it wrong in writing, it’s basically a way of telling them you don’t care enough to either 1) Know the proper spelling of their name 2) Take the time to check your spelling. Avoid offending a donor and double check your spelling.

  1. It’s about them. Use salutations they prefer.

Have you ever had someone shorten your name or give you a nickname you didn’t like? I have. For me, I prefer people address me by my full first name at work or in a professional setting. What about someone who went through years of school to become a doctor and they want you to refer to them as such? In that case, you wouldn’t want to call them Mr. or Ms. Perhaps someone is more laid back and wants to be called by their first name. Don’t be too formal with them every time you reach out then. Know that. Know how your donors want to be talked to and then craft your message accordingly. It shows that you’re paying attention.

  1. Consistency is key. Be consistent and personalize your communications.

Once you’ve double checked the spelling of their name and you know how they want to be addressed, be consistent. Consistency is key. Continue to use the salutation you know they want. But what happens if your data is wrong or you only have a last name? Or maybe you just don’t have the time or staff to customize every communication. In an article by LetsTalkNonProfit they advise never to send a “Dear Donor” letter. Ever. Maybe you’re using an automated email system to send letters or tax mailings to donors, which is fine, but as the article points out, there’s likely a way to add the donor’s name to the auto-reply. If that’s not an option, maybe consider leaving the donor’s name off, instead of using an impersonal salutation. Be authentic.

No one knows your donors better than you do. They want to know you care and that you know who they are. It’s pretty tough to show you care when you’re spelling their name incorrectly or not addressing them how they want you to. So, check your spelling, know how they want to be addressed and be consistent. Those might seem like small things, but it’s the small things that add up to make a big impact.

Contact us today if you’d like to hear how Aria can help you personalize your communications.

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