18 ways to connect your fundraising with your donors

The toughest thing about writing fundraising is your reader is not you.

They’re very unlike you.

When you are the only reference point for your writing, there are dozens of ways you can get things wrong.

Here are some great ways to look outside your personal “bubble,” from Forbes, at 18 Super Fast Ways To Ensure The Target Audience Will Understand Your Copy:

  1. Show It To A Friend In The Audience. Your mom might be a good one to try. She may not understand fundraising — so don’t ask her if it’s “good” — but find out if she understands the message.
  2. Bullet The Information And Look For Gaps. Make an outline of your copy. You can do this before you start or later in the process. See if anything is missing.
  3. Have Someone Younger Than You Read It. For us in fundraising, it would be better to find someone older to read it.
  4. Utilize Readability Tech And Tests. My favorite is the Hemingway Editor.
  5. Read It Out Loud. You’ll catch awkwardness and missing words that are easy to miss otherwise.
  6. Assess Whether You Are Using Plain Language. Reality check: Are you using in-house jargon because that’s the way everyone at your organization talks?
  7. See If You’re Using The Words Customers Use. This might mean using corny and sentimental phrases that make you cringe!
  8. Run It By One Other Person, Then Through Grammarly.
  9. Make Sure Skimming It Provides The Key Takeaway. Run your eyes rapidly over the copy, only reading the stuff that stands out. Does it still get the message across?
  10. Read A Sentence And Try To Explain It. Do this with key sentences. Read, then with your eyes closed, re-word it more simply. This re-write is often better than the original.
  11. Count How Many Key Messages You’ve Included. The optimal number is one.
  12. Take It To The Front Lines. If you have colleagues who talk to donors more often than you do, run it past them. They often have a good sense of what donors do and don’t understand and respond to.
  13. Read It First Thing In The Morning. Before coffee! If you’ve made things difficult, this reading will help you see what’s off.
  14. Phone A Friend. A non-expert. See how it goes over. You’re not seeking their expert opinion on the quality of the fundraising, but simply: Do they get it?
  15. Read It Out Loud To Your Kids. Kids demand clarity and simplicity!
  16. Walk Away From It And Return With Fresh Eyes. Put some time between drafts. A whole day when you can.
  17. Check For Clear Headlines And Skimmable Headers. Read just the headlines or subheads. It needs to still be coherent.
  18. Look For Long Sentences That Can Be Split Up. Any sentence longer than 20 words is a candidate for splitting into two or 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 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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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.

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