How to avoid hesitant fundraising writing

There are habits we have in speech that make us seem more agreeable — but when those same habits creep into writing, it makes the writing weak, less clear, hesitant.

Here’s a great post at The Publication Coach that can help uncover these speech habits that sneak into writing: Is your writing too hesitant?

  • Expressions of uncertainty: I think, perhaps, I believe, or disclaimers like I may be mistaken. Hard to avoid, because they come naturally in speech, but to be avoided in writing.
  • Hedges: Weakening words and phrases like sort of, kind of, somewhat.
  • Tag questions: Phrases or questions that seek immediate confirmation, like isn’t it? Don’t you agree? These are important in speech. Not so much in writing.
  • Intensifiers: Like really and very.

There’s an important exception to this that comes up frequently in fundraising writing: When you want your writing to emulate speech. Which is often in our work.

The trick for fundraising writers: Know what writing mode you’re in at the moment.

Conversational? Declarative?

Strong fundraising goes back and forth between the two modes. So, as with all writing, be aware of what you’re doing in every sentence you write.


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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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