Grammar rules for successful fundraisers

Is online writing the revenge of the students? It might be, according to the M+R blog post Your Middle School Teacher May or May Not Be Horrified: 6 Rules for Online Writing.

Here are some characteristics of online writing:


  1. And yes, if you want to, you can start a sentence with a conjunction.
  2. Sentence fragments? The best!
  3. A voice that is passive is the worst! (I disagree with this one. Passive voice is a perfectly good tool, and skillful writers use it all the time. Good writing is made up of 10% to 20% passive sentences. The colloquial tone we strive for in fundraising will use even more passive voice.)
  4. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
  5. Be concise.
  6. Comma splices are great, I love them so much.

Here are a couple more English-teacher rules you should feel free to break:


  1. Don’t make your paragraphs units of meaning, with a topic sentence and one complete idea. Paragraphs should be visual and rhythmic units. Short. One-sentence paragraphs are fine. Even one-word paragraphs.
  2. Be informal. Use contractions. Use slang and informal terms (assuming your reader is familiar with them). Address the reader constantly.


Comments

2 responses to “Grammar rules for successful fundraisers”

  1. I had mixed feelings when I saw the headline for this post. On the one hand, I’m a grammar nerd. On the other hand, because I’m a grammar nerd, articles that provide excuses or reasons for breaking the rules make me a bit uncomfortable.
    Fortunately, this post is on target and the advice is generally quite sound. In my own writing, I tend to follow the concepts outlined. However, I would like to offer three cautionary thoughts:
    1. I believe it’s important to know the grammar rules before consciously deciding to break them. There should be a reason for breaking the rules of good grammar. Doing so on a whim or out of ignorance is not wise.
    2. When breaking the rules, be sure you are creating clarity rather than confusion. Consider the following example: Let’s eat grandpop. v. Let’s eat, grandpop. Grandpop will likely be much happier with the second sentence.
    3. If a fundraiser works for a college or university, readers might have more of a problem with the breaking of grammar rules. It’s important to be sensitive to the organization’s culture when communicating. Testing is often a wise idea.
    For my fellow grammar nerds out there, check-out the book “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” (http://astore.amazon.com/mlinn-20/detail/1592402038). It’s a fun examination of the evolution of grammar and, some might say, its decline.

  2. I had mixed feelings when I saw the headline for this post. On the one hand, I’m a grammar nerd. On the other hand, because I’m a grammar nerd, articles that provide excuses or reasons for breaking the rules make me a bit uncomfortable.
    Fortunately, this post is on target and the advice is generally quite sound. In my own writing, I tend to follow the concepts outlined. However, I would like to offer three cautionary thoughts:
    1. I believe it’s important to know the grammar rules before consciously deciding to break them. There should be a reason for breaking the rules of good grammar. Doing so on a whim or out of ignorance is not wise.
    2. When breaking the rules, be sure you are creating clarity rather than confusion. Consider the following example: Let’s eat grandpop. v. Let’s eat, grandpop. Grandpop will likely be much happier with the second sentence.
    3. If a fundraiser works for a college or university, readers might have more of a problem with the breaking of grammar rules. It’s important to be sensitive to the organization’s culture when communicating. Testing is often a wise idea.
    For my fellow grammar nerds out there, check-out the book “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” (http://astore.amazon.com/mlinn-20/detail/1592402038). It’s a fun examination of the evolution of grammar and, some might say, its decline.

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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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