Want to raise more money? Simplify!

Why do scientists and medical professionals write the way they do?

Grammatically complex, high-end vocabulary writing that can be such a struggle to read.

This is often a problem in fundraising, because hard-to-read writing measurably hurts response. That’s right — it costs you money to communicate with donors the way scientists communicate with each other.

If you work with these experts, you may hit the wall: They don’t want you to simplify their writing, because that’s they way we write in our profession!

Some believe they have to write that way to be effective.

That might be correct. At least in the sense that they may not be taken seriously by other experts if their writing is easy to read.

But I don’t think so!

I think they write that way out of habit and lack of time to spend improving their writing. And especially because they have a “captive” audience in their professional discourse who are encouraged by both a carrot and a stick:

  • The professionals are paid to read that stuff, no matter how difficult it is.
  • They have to read it. It’s their job. Those who don’t will fall behind.

In fundraising, we have no carrot and no stick for our donors. They don’t have to read our stuff. We have to win their attention, hold their attention, and put clear and specific action in their hands. When we don’t, we fail.

Fortunately, because we measure the effectiveness of our projects, we have a lot of ideas about what does and does not work. One of those things is easy-to-read writing.

Easy-to-read writing raises more money than hard-to-read writing.

I have a suspicion that if the effectiveness of professional discourse writing were measured, they’d discover that simplicity is better — better for comprehension, better for engagement, better for impact.

But until that happens, it’s our job as fundraisers to simplify the complex.


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