We’re at that point in the year when the kids are finally out of school, the fiscal year has ended for many, and we’re all more than halfway through the calendar year. The weather is finally nice, we’re taking our summer vacations, and in general, we’re starting to enjoy a slightly less hectic pace of living. But truth be told, summers aren’t as quiet as they used to be. Families don’t just pack up and head “down the shore” or “down the Cape” for the entire months of July and August. Colleges and even many primary and secondary schools now begin the “fall” sessions in the middle of August – or even earlier. And no one ever really disconnects and gets away from it all anymore, because we have our cell phones and our tablets and all of our 21st century accoutrements with us at all times.
As she was reviewing the images captured by our camera during a recent vacation, my wife was puzzled to come across the one above. She knew she wasn’t the one who took the photo, so I must have been (and was in fact!) the culprit.
Joshua Bell released a new Bach recording recently, which had me a bit perplexed. There is nothing new about Bach. Why would anyone want to buy this CD, since there are so many Bach recordings already in existence? But Bell has his own “brand,” and people will buy this recording just because he has a following and his interpretation of Bach’s music is sure to be different from his peers.
The latest trend in planned giving communications is something called “donor-focused design,” an approach that places the donor at the center of the design process. The concept is based on the presumption that an organization’s communications will be more effective and will resonate more with donors if they reflect the needs, objectives, and in particular, language of those donors. Interestingly, this concept is completely in line with a philosophy of website design that the best practitioners have followed for some time. The most effective websites are designed using the results of research into user experience (UX), including areas such as eye scanning, and information tracking. As early as 2001, research done by Dr. Ed Chi, who at the time was Principal Scientist for Augmented Social Cognition, as well as others at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), indicated that humans track information in a fashion similar to the way that animals follow a scent. People... engage in what [Dr. Ed Chi] calls ‘hub-and-spoke’ surfing: They begin at the center, and they follow a trail based on its information scent.... If the scent is sufficiently strong, the surfer will continue to go on that trail. But if the trail is weak, they go back to the hub. ‘People repeat this process until they're satisfied,’ Chi said.
Karen Osborne conducted a webinar for PG Calc on Strategic Storytelling and its role in planned giving marketing in April. Some of you may have attended it, but for those who didn’t here’s something to consider. Citing inspiration from a Simon Sinek TED talk, she stated, “your ‘why’ story has to come before what you do and how you do it. What societal problems are you solving? What impact have past investments made? What do you envision going forward?” It’s easier to tell the “why” story in person, but smart planned giving marketing messages should tell the “why” story as well. Your planned giving communications should include the following: