6 things you need to know about writing great fundraising

Writing fundraising is unlike other kinds of writing. Some of what makes fundraising work would absolutely make your writing teachers heads fly off.

Knowing the difference and breaking the habits instilled in us by other forms of writing is the key to success in fundraising.

Here are some of the startling differences from Hands-On Fundraising, at So you want to write to donors:

  1. Kind beats clever. Being clever in your writing can be very satisfying. But it rarely works in fundraising. Your goal is for readers to internalize a need and feel empowered to do something about it. Not to crack a knowing smile or admire the writer. Always stay on the task of encouraging kindness. (Also, humor does not cross generational lines easily. What’s clever to you is often opaque to donors.)
  2. Simple is better than complex. Few donors are going to take the time to understand a complex ideas. Keep fundraising simple and crystal clear.
  3. People respond to people, not statistics. The part of the brain the engages with statistic is a long way from the part that decides to give away money. If you engage one, the other is left out in the cold. That’s why stories move people while statistics turn them away.
  4. Your words are not as powerful as a great image. A picture is worth a thousand words. Probably more. That means when you have a photo that tells the story, use it. And when you have a photo that doesn’t tell your story don’t use it!
  5. People skim. Or skip. Let them. Few of your readers start with the first word and then read everything in order, the way you and I do. Write for skimmers. Make lots of visual entry points by keeping paragraphs short, underlining the most important stuff. And be repetitive. Repetitive. Repetitive.
  6. Helping makes us feel good. It’s easy to imagine that donors are annoyed by your appeals. We hear from annoyed donors. But the bigger and more important truth is that donors choose to be donors because it makes their lives better. Every time you go to them with an ask, you’re giving them a chance to feel better and be better.

The top characteristic of an effective writer is the ability to adapt to the situation you’re writing in. Fundraising is different, and knowing the difference is your key to success.


Comments

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

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.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

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.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

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.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

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.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog