5 Barriers to Connecting with Your Audience (That You Didn’t Even Notice!)

After you go through the process of identifying your target audience or donors, it’s important to make things as easy as possible for them to actually do what you’re asking them to do: donate. So here, I’m identifying five barriers to watch out for when engaging with your donor audience.

Tone of Voice

It’s important to identify your audience so that you can speak to them how they want to be spoken to. An older audience may want a more formal tone in the communications they receive, whereas a younger audience may want something short and to the point with cultural references. When you’re communicating with your donors, don’t alienate them by using the wrong tone or type of speech. Research what your target audience prefers and then do your own A/B testing to further determine your do’s and don’ts.


Similarly, don’t use jargon that is specific to your organization or niche or isn’t widely known. Readers will lose interest quickly, skim over, or worse, be made to feel bad about themselves. Just like how doctors and lawyers use plain, simple language when discussing highly complex topics, use plain English when talking about your organization and what you do. Acronyms, specific terms, and slang can and will be lost on your audience, and you’ll lose out as a result.


Since most communication happens online, the design of your email, newsletter, or graphic makes a big difference. If it’s hard to read, uses conflicting colors, or has too much information on it, your audience is less likely to engage and absorb the message you are trying to send.


Tell people exactly what you want and how they can help you get there. If you’re overly colloquial or vague, your marketing message will become much less effective. Instead, be specific and to the point. Where is there money going? How are they helping? Don’t say that you’re helping a child in Africa; say that you’re helping to feed and clothe X amount of children in Africa for X amount of days. People are more likely to engage and donate when they know exactly where their money is going and how it will help.


When you’re writing communications to potential donors or your audience in general, don’t focus on yourself. Focus on the impact your organization can have and how your audience can further that mission. Instead of talking about how something works, give specific examples of what donor money has accomplished and how. Tell your audience about the changes that were able to occur due to the money you’ve received, not about the event that facilitated it.

Are you guilty of putting any of these barriers in place? You’re not alone! But next time you’re planning and crafting marketing communications, keep these five things in mind.