Are you writing bad fundraising copy?

Here’s a scary post from Copyblogger: 7 Ways to Write Damn Bad Copy. I’ve seen all of these. Done quite a few myself:


  1. Lyrical (excessively poetic)
  2. Sentimental (falsely emotional — but real emotion works)
  3. Outlandish (packed with poorly supported superlative claims)
  4. Humorous (you aren’t as funny as you think, and unfunny humor is the deadest kind of dead any copy can be)
  5. Short (short copy doesn’t usually persuade)
  6. Clever (nobody cares how smart you are)
  7. Advertorial (ad dressed up to look like a piece of news)

The problem with most of these things is they call attention to the writer. I have very sad news for you: Nobody cares how clever, funny, passionate, or deep you are. Even your mother doesn’t care. She’s just acting like she does because she loves you.

In fundraising, more than most disciplines, good copy is about the reader and about what they can do. That’s all. Save the look-at-me copy for … well, there really isn’t any good place for it. You can get away with it in poorly edited literary magazines.


Comments

2 responses to “Are you writing bad fundraising copy?”

  1. Agree on all except #5. In email appeals, long copy can (but not always) be deadly. I rarely write an appeal that tops 400 words, and most clock in around 300. In email, judgement is quick, attention is fleeting. We have no room or time to stretch out. Get opened, get clicked, get the donation. The persuading is spread out in tiny bites throughout an email campaign, on social networks, via blogs, videos, etc.

  2. Agree on all except #5. In email appeals, long copy can (but not always) be deadly. I rarely write an appeal that tops 400 words, and most clock in around 300. In email, judgement is quick, attention is fleeting. We have no room or time to stretch out. Get opened, get clicked, get the donation. The persuading is spread out in tiny bites throughout an email campaign, on social networks, via blogs, videos, etc.

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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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