The secret to powerful fundraising: know your audience

If you’re a writer, chances are something like this incident, described at Fundraising Assets (Make your message crystal clear), has happened to you too:

The writer had to write a piece introducing a psychologist to an audience of non-psychologists. When she gave it to him for review, it happened:

When he was done “correcting” the draft, it was no longer warm and welcoming. In fact, it wasn’t even understandable. It was full of jargon and technical language…. Why did he muck up the article? “I don’t want my colleagues to think I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

I wish I’d got a nickel every time that happened to me. (Come to think of it, that probably is about how much I’ve got. Never mind.)

Most people have a very hard time understanding audience — the idea that you are writing to a very specific group of people with their own level of experience, understanding, and connection to what you’re writing about.

Experts really care about what other experts think of them, so they tend to convert anything they write into an occasion to impress fellow experts.

Many others think their audience is themselves, so they wishfully write what they imagine would motivate them.

Audience confusion is probably the top cause of lousy fundraising. If you can clearly visualize your audience when you write — your real audience, not your preferred fantasy audience — you are a long way toward moving more people to join your cause.


Comments

4 responses to “The secret to powerful fundraising: know your audience”

  1. If you can clearly visualize your audience when you write your real audience, not your preferred fantasy audience you are a long way toward moving more people to join your cause.

  2. If you can clearly visualize your audience when you write your real audience, not your preferred fantasy audience you are a long way toward moving more people to join your cause.

  3. Jeff,
    Thanks so much for linking to my Fundraising Assets blog. I’m glad you found it valuable.
    Best,
    Connie

  4. Jeff,
    Thanks so much for linking to my Fundraising Assets blog. I’m glad you found it valuable.
    Best,
    Connie

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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