Personalizing the Grey Flannel Suit – Part I: Biographies Tell Who You Are

Donors don’t leave legacies to empty, grey flannel suits. Donors want to see the face of the person wearing the suit, because philanthropy is about forming relationships with people. And any relationship requires an element of “getting to know you.” That’s why your fundraisers need well-written biographies on your nonprofit’s planned giving website.

A good biography tells people who you are and why you do what you do. It allows prospects (and donors) a glimpse into your life and into your personality. That, in turn, allows them to relate to you as a fellow human being — which is the foundation upon which all good relationships are built.

Here are a few tips to get started:

  • Include biographies on your website (on the “Who We Are” or “Our Staff” page)
  • Place them in print pieces (e.g. an “About the Author” blurb).
  • Consider using a little humor
  • List education and professional accomplishments
    • List any professional memberships
    • Include a personal statement (“I joined MySchoolsCharity.Com to help alumni make a difference!”)
    • Relate something fun about you (“Regardless of the season, Lisa enjoys photographing wildlife at the National Seashore”)
    • Help donors see you in a company context (“When you call our office number, Vanessa’s will be the first voice you hear.”)
    • Use the staff member’s first name in the body of the bio to make it sound warmer.
    • Be written in third person (not first)
    • Include a professional headshot
    • Include a link to your LinkedIn profile.
  • The bio should NOT:
    • Be the size of War and Peace. Keep it brief.
    • Include links to other social media accounts, unless you use them specifically for your job. (i.e., you only post photos on Instagram of mission-related activities).
    • Include a photo of you in a bathing suit, at the gym, or on a pub crawl with your pals. Keep it professional!
    • Include your political views, unless they apply specifically to your mission.

One last, important tip: Consider your audience and your mission when crafting bios. Stuffy, overly academic sounding write-ups are a good way to put donors to sleep. A little humor, on the other hand, can work wonders.

Watch this space for more personalization strategies!


Categories: Planned Giving Marketing, Relationships

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