What they hate about your fundraising copy is exactly what makes it good

If you write fundraising copy, you’re probably used to people who review what you’ve written hating it. Goes with the territory.

But when they give their reasons for hating the copy, a funny thing often happens: They are absolutely right in their assessment of its qualities — but completely wrong that those qualities are a bad thing.

Here are some common complaints, along with some reasons those complaints name a good quality for fundraising copy:


  • It’s simplistic. Yes! Simplifying complex ideas is a sign of a professional at work. If your copy is complex, it’s not very good.
  • It’s repetitive. Yes! You can’t count on people starting on the beginning and reading every word on through to the end. You have to structure your copy so that a skimmer or someone who starts and ends somewhere in the middle gets the message.
  • It’s emotional. Yes! If it isn’t emotional, it won’t work. An entirely rational argument for giving will never carry the day.
  • It’s dramatic. Yes! To break through the clutter and noise of people’s lives, you need drama.
  • It makes me uncomfortable. Yes! Good fundraising causes discomfort, imbalance. It needs to make donors uncomfortable, so they’ll act to make things right.


Comments

8 responses to “What they hate about your fundraising copy is exactly what makes it good”

  1. Maureen sent me here. And this is a mighty good post.

  2. Maureen sent me here. And this is a mighty good post.

  3. Charles Avatar

    This advice is probably true if you are happy with a very small number of people responding. But if your goal is to engage the largest number of people and make them feel good about your relationship, then this kind of approach isn’t great.
    In other words, it fits the dead trees model of fundraising, works for the older generation of donors that is aging out, but might not provoke a feeling of partnership with those of sub-boomer age.

  4. Charles Avatar

    This advice is probably true if you are happy with a very small number of people responding. But if your goal is to engage the largest number of people and make them feel good about your relationship, then this kind of approach isn’t great.
    In other words, it fits the dead trees model of fundraising, works for the older generation of donors that is aging out, but might not provoke a feeling of partnership with those of sub-boomer age.

  5. Adrian Salmon Avatar
    Adrian Salmon

    Umm, that doesn’t make sense Charles. Jeff is posting this advice because fundraising copy that follows these rules generates more response, not less..

  6. Adrian Salmon Avatar
    Adrian Salmon

    Umm, that doesn’t make sense Charles. Jeff is posting this advice because fundraising copy that follows these rules generates more response, not less..

  7. I totally agree. As a writer, I’m constantly having to deal with “but I don’t like it”. It’s not about liking it, it’s about whether or not it works and gets the emotional and financial response you’re looking for for your donors.
    So often clients refuse to take professional advice and insist on watering copy down to bureaucratic bullshit, then wonder why it hasn’t done as well as work you’ve done for clients who didn’t water it down!

  8. I totally agree. As a writer, I’m constantly having to deal with “but I don’t like it”. It’s not about liking it, it’s about whether or not it works and gets the emotional and financial response you’re looking for for your donors.
    So often clients refuse to take professional advice and insist on watering copy down to bureaucratic bullshit, then wonder why it hasn’t done as well as work you’ve done for clients who didn’t water it down!

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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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