Your & Yours – Use Often [#WordsThatWow]

[This is the latest post in our #WordsThatWow series. We recently wrote about We & Our. Today, we move to a different set of pronouns that merit your attention: You & Yours. Thanks to Tessa, our intern for writing this post and reminding us of the power of pronouns!]

Some of the best marketing advice I’ve ever received, from Claxon’s own Erica Mills (who was quoting Peter Drury), is this: “Donors don’t give to you. They give through you.”

In other words, people give to you because of the difference you can help them make in the community. You are a conduit. By giving you money, they allow you to rock at what you do–be that caring for kids, feeding the homeless, or fighting cancer. But it’s about the people and places you help–not you, the organization. And yet, many organizations speak and write to their donors as if the organization is at the center of–or is the hero of–the story.

For instance, does this sound familiar? (Imagine a recent donation thank you letter you’ve received, or maybe even sent).

Thank you for your donation to Organization Awesome! We have made huge strides this year. We have successfully implemented three new programs to move our mission forward. But there’s more to be done. In the coming year, we plan to…blah, blah, blah. 

If you write messages like that, your donor will not feel like they’re a part of the change. Why? Because it’s all about you. Not about them and the amazing things they have made possible.

But how about this?

You are amazing! Your recent donation to Organization Awesome has made so much possible for our community. For instance, did you hear about the three new programs we implemented this year? They having a huge impact and we couldn’t have done it without you! Your donation allows us to continue making progress on behalf of the people we serve and the community we all love. With your help, our mission will be achieved. Thank you again.

A simple change in pronouns can make a huge difference. The first example was all about ‘we’ and ‘our’. The second was all about ‘you’ and ‘your’.

This shift in pronouns doesn’t apply just to donation letters; it also applies to any of your messaging. Imagine a conversation in which you are telling someone about your organization. Hearing you and your will show your listener how the cause relates to them, make it more personal, and is more likely to get their attention. For example:

We make Seattle safer and healthier by stopping harmful chemicals from contaminating the air.

vs.

We make your city safer and healthier by making sure the air you breathe is clean.

So, go out and get personal! Use your and your as much as you can. If you have someone’s name, use that too. When you make it personal, people are more likely to get and stay involved with your organization.

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Trackbacks

  1. […] You are the center of the universe: Whether or not that’s true, if you want to engage supporters in your mission, shift your language to make it about them. (Hint: Liberal use of ‘you’ and ‘your’ will do the trick.) […]

  2. […] Your Listener We all want to feel like we’re a part of something. See my post on You and Your for advice on how to bring your listener into your […]

  3. […] are your linguistic BFFs. Paying attention to them can pay off in a big way. The more you use “you” and “your”, and the less you use “I” and “We”, the more you speak directly to what the […]

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