What’s in a Name? – A Response!

SalI would probably never wear a tuxedo to a BBQ or pool party. Nor would I wear a singlet and board shorts to a gala dinner. I am hopeful most of us know the appropriate attire for the different events and occasions we attend. In a similar fashion, we use different language and words in different settings and with different people. Do we speak the same in front of close friends and family versus someone we have never met? The setting and sometimes the communication method dictate our words. We might use different language in a written card or letter than we would in an email. And a text message or tweet would probably use even different words.

When we communicate with our prospects and donors do we change the way we salute and address them depending on the occasion for communicating with them?

If we’re sending them an invite to our awards dinner, does their name appear the same as on their donation thank you? Is it the same as our invite to our summer sausage sizzle?

The name you use for your prospects and donors is important for relationship building. Using the correct Addressee and Salutation could affect whether you get a response from them. For example, I have a friend named Patricia. She only goes by Patricia. She is never called Pat or Patty. If any organisation approaches her using either of the latter, she will not respond.

Your organisation should record the preferred, standard way a constituent wishes to be addressed and saluted. However, your organisation should also consider recording additional addressees and salutations for each of the ways in which you may communicate with them.

The following should be recorded for each person on your database:

  • Formal – Used for invitations or communication from your Board or head of organisation. It would likely include the person’s title
  • Informal – Used for more informal event invitations and other communications. It would likely not include any titles and be only a first and surname

But beyond these obvious ones, this is a great place to record other ways you will use your donor and prospect names. Here are a few:

  • Known by director/president/CEO – Used for correspondence sent with the signature of your organisation’s leader who might personally know some of the people who are receiving the communication
  • Family/Household – Used to address additional members of the person’s family such as their partner/spouse and their children. It can include the names of each person or simply be something like “The <Surname> Family”. This option is great to invite the entire family to school functions or for a holiday card.
  • Receipt Name – Used to indicate a different name for a tax receipt than you might use for regular communications
  • Recognition Name – Used for when you post or publish a list of donors or other type of recognition. For example, in your annual report an individual donor might want their partner/spouse also listed with them even though the donation came only from him/her.

Once you have recorded these Addressees and Salutations, you will be able to communicate with a majority of your constituents in way that builds a connection and relationship with them. Again, think of my friend, Patricia, and your own communications with people.

So please salute me as Mr. Bernstein, Daniel or Dan depending on the occasion and method of communication. However, one final tip, please don’t mix addressees and salutations on the same piece or I might show up to your event in a tuxedo with board shorts and thongs.