Whoops! 🎵 I almost edited out something because it was corny

I almost made a silly mistake.

I was giving someone direction on a fundraising letter, and came to a bulleted list. The bullets weren’t dots, but little musical notes: 🎵. (It was an arts organization).

I got a slight “ew” reaction to it, and was about to suggest a change to “normal” looking bullets.

Wait a second.

Where did that “ew” come from?

Well, those little notes struck me as “corny.” Needlessly cute. Not serious.

If you know me or read my writings on fundraising at all, you might a step or two ahead of me: I frequently defend “corny” in fundraising. One of my books (The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communication) I make a big deal about how fundraising messages should be plain, corny, and obvious.

So why did I almost remove some “corny” from a fundraising message?

Maybe it was too corny?

I hope that wasn’t it. Here’s me speaking at a conference, with my words projected giant-size behind me:

Toocorny

That’s right, you really can’t be too corny.

But you could be inappropriate.

Those cute little notes in a message about suffering, pain, and tragedy … that would be wrong. It would undermine the message.

I was applying that “inappropriate” filter in the wrong place.

So here’s my “new” rule about such things:

Corny is good. It’s never a problem. Things that clash with the mood or message — bad. Take a moment to ask yourself whether something is inappropriate or merely corny, because it can be hard to tell the difference. Revise what’s inappropriate. Leave what’s corny.

And keep in mind that your own sense of “taste” doesn’t really guide you to anything helpful in fundraising.


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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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