Fundraising Writing Blog
Taylor Swift recently finished her Reputation Stadium Tour, finishing the massive world jaunt with an eye-popping $435 million. Haters gonna hate, but for me, I'm thrilled Netflix quickly released Taylor Swift's tour film. It's wildly entertaining and filled with her past and present hits that cause you to bop around.
But... more than that, the film portrays Taylor connecting with her fans like no other performer I have witnessed. Sounds corny, but the space between Taylor and her fans is simply magical. Theirs is like the ideal relationship nonprofits crave to have with their donors.
You can learn a lot about donor communications from watching Taylor's relationship with her "Swifties." Here's what I mean...
After seeing a parallel between Taylor Swift and her fans... and nonprofits and their donors, I quickly grabbed my notepad and started writing down what she was communicating to her audience.
I'll share with you what she says so you can copy her success and apply it to your donor communications today... and feel the love tomorrow.
...Ready for it?
Taylor Makes Her Fans Feel Like She Is Speaking Directly To Each One Of Them Individually
TAYLOR: Have you noticed that you have a light-up bracelet on your wrist?
TAYLOR: The reason I wanted to have these on the tour was because this is actually my very first all-stadium tour, which has been so, so much fun because of you. So, one thing I do know about stadiums is they’re just massive places to play, and so I wanted to make sure that no matter what, I could see every single one of you in these stadiums.
[Crowd Waves Wrists Wildly]
TAYLOR: So if you’re on the top, top deck, last row and you think I can’t see you... that would be incorrect. I can see absolutely every person in this stadium.
[Crowd Loses Their Minds]
Donors want to be seen. They want to feel important. They want you to speak personally and directly to them.
This does not mean that you have to hand write a note to each donor just like Taylor can't possibly see every single person in a stadium. But it does mean that you need to make each donor feel like they alone can make a difference.
For example, when you write an appeal letter, the salutation should read "Dear (their name)" instead of "Dear Friend." You are speaking human to human... not organization to "whomever picks up your letter."
Also, frame all communications with the needs of your donors in mind... not the needs of your organization. Donors give because of their reasons, not because of yours. Focusing on your donors and what they want to accomplish rather than on your organization will attract them to your cause.
Taylor's Gratitude For Her Fans Overflows
TAYLOR: Thank you for spending your Saturday with us. You have so many things you could be doing with your Saturday evening. So, here you are, deciding to be with us on a Saturday... You may have heard this. It's a little known fact. This is our last night on our U.S. Tour.
TAYLOR: So, you decided not only to spend Saturday night with us, but to commemorate the last night of this tour. That is such a beautiful thing. Thank you for deciding all those things tonight.
[Crowd Throws Arms Up And Screams]
If you think you are thanking your donors enough, you are wrong. Always remind donors of their giving impact... and thank them, thank them, thank them.
I have a friend who is an executive director and she cited that the main reason their year-end campaign nearly doubled from the previous year was that they "gave out donor love like it was free beer at a frat party."
Taylor Makes It Clear That Her Fans Are Part Of An Exclusive Group
TAYLOR: You’ve really encouraged me to experiment with my music, and to try different things try different sounds, try different instruments. You guys were always the ones pushing me to experiment and grow. And I really appreciate that.
TAYLOR: ‘Cause I’ve had so much fun switching up, you know, styles of music, genres, and there are a lot of people in the music industry that thought when you start in one genre of music, you stay there because that’s what people are used to and that’s what they like.
But my relationship with you and how much we talk online, how much we meet each other at the shows, or like at my house… I know from our conversations that you guys are so all about lyrics and all about a feeling... I think that’s kind of all you care about when it comes to a song.
[Crowd Ugly Cries]
Not everybody is a potential donor for your organization. People have different interests and viewpoints, just like music industry leaders thought negatively about Taylor changing music genres. They weren't necessarily wrong per se... but they were wrong for Taylor. They were not "her" people.
What you want to uncover is who believes what you do... who sees the world as you do... who keeps raising their hand when you ask. Those are your people... your tribe. Treat them special.
Question for your to ponder: Do donors who give your organization $1000 a year receive the same communications as someone who only gives $10? Perhaps you can start segmenting your donor list and focus on building better relationships with mid-range and larger donors. Just like super fans buy all-things "Taylor Swift," your donors, through their gifts, are communicating that they want to be in your inner circle.
Taylor Swift's Reputation Tour film is more than just a fun show. It's a masterclass for nonprofits on how to draw your donors in and inspire them to care about the work you do.
Taylor makes the show all about her fans... so much so that they feel like she can see each one of them in the stadium. She talks to them friend-to-friend... she thanks them profusely... and she brings them into her inner circle.
If you treat your donors the way Taylor treats her fans, you will open the door to greater success and improve your... reputation. ;)