The real secret to great fundraising writing

Great post at Otis Regrets: Is this the John Caples of 2014?. It’s about an editor at Gawker named Neetzan Zimmerman, who was profiled in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

Zimmerman writes headlines. His job is to collected eyeballs, clicks, and links. He does that with headlines like: Mom Fined $140 Every Day Until She Circumcises Her Child.

His job is a lot like yours and mine. And he’s good at it. Here’s the observation that stand out:

It’s not enough to write well, to know your subject and audience, to deliver up benefit statements that get readers reaching for their wallets. To be a truly great and consistently control-busting copywriter you need to be able to connect with people on a visceral level, where they trust you and want nothing more than to hang on your every word.

That’s the magic part of fundraising writing. Where you go beyond all the knowledge and science and connect with people. Of course, it isn’t really magic — it just seems like it, because it’s deeper knowledge that most people don’t know how to use.

How do you get to be like Neetzan Zimmerman (or John Caples?

It’s part talent, part paying attention and studying, part long experience. All built on a willingness to get outside of your own beliefs and preferences.


Comments

2 responses to “The real secret to great fundraising writing”

  1. Thanks for the link, Jeff! One of the “feel good” aspects of this story (for me as a copywriter) is that Zimmerman’s ability to draw traffic is so significant, “he effectively subsidizes the rest of the staff, liberating them to pursue deeper, longer, more experimental pieces.”

  2. Thanks for the link, Jeff! One of the “feel good” aspects of this story (for me as a copywriter) is that Zimmerman’s ability to draw traffic is so significant, “he effectively subsidizes the rest of the staff, liberating them to pursue deeper, longer, more experimental pieces.”

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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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