Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Who Cares? The Need for Personalized Communication

Today I received a letter in the mail from my health insurance company.  You are taking a certain medicine, they said, so every year, you should have a certain kind of blood test.  Are you doing that?  Will you ask you doctor to make sure?

The company called the letter a Care Alert, and everything in it reinforced the message, "We Care."  The envelope didn't: it looked as if it might have been one of those Explanations of Benefits that don't explain anything at all.  And of course, one of the reasons they care is that if I look out for myself, I can avoid serious health risks that would end up costing the insurance company a lot. 

Still, the message itself was caring.  It was personalized, and it treated me like a responsible adult who can make good decisions with the proper information.

I would like to propose that nonprofits aim at making all their communications as personal and as caring as the letter I received.

What would it take to do that?
  1. Knowing, and remembering, a lot about your supporters. 
  2. Thinking, "How can I make my agency useful to this person?"  What topics matter to him or her?  What information would she or he find useful--not in a general way, but here and now?  
  3. Calling on them to take action...and showing them how.
The tools exist to make all this possible.  Databases, constituent relationship management software and processes, email tools, various programs that remind you it's time to send this kind of message to this specific person: they're out there, and not that expensive.

But is your organization willing to spend the time and attention it takes to treating every client, constituent, prospect, or donor with at least as much care as a health insurance company showed to me?

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