Sunday, July 31, 2016

Persuasive Writing: Exercise in Fundraising Writing

Here a possible exercise. Have students pick a nonprofit and write a letter calling on recipients to contribute money to the cause. Have students think about what techniques would be effective. As a practical matter, anyone who enters the nonprofit arena can expect to spend substantial time raising funds. I speak from experience.

Here are guidelines offered by Jeff Brooks on the GuideStar blog (abridged):

  1. The importance of being urgent

Fundraising requires [a] sense of aggressive urgency. When it’s not there, when it’s the equivalent of “somebody call 9-1-1?” We get the same result. Everyone thinks someone else will take care of it. Hardly anyone gives.

  1. Make it easy to read

Sixth-grade level copy isn’t just for 6th-graders. It’s just easier to read. Easier for everyone, no matter how well-educated.

  1. Long messages work better
  2. Grammar for fundraisers

Fundraising copy that works is colloquial, informal, and simple. It doesn’t call attention to the education of the writer. In fact, it’s far more important to sound natural than it is to obey the grammar, usage, and structure rules your english teachers taught you.

  1. Persuade with story, not statistics

If you want action, you must help donors feel the pain of hunger by seeing it play out in one life. Then give them the opportunity to save one life—then another and another.

If you want to put it in environmental terms, it’s one pelican, covered in sticky tar and flopping along the beach, that galvanizes response to an oil spill. Not the reports of millions of gallons of oil churning into the ocean.

  1. Make it all about the donor

You’re not raising money to fund your organization. You’re enabling your donors to make the world a better place—through your organization.

That means the only facts that matter in fundraising are those you can directly connect to donors. To do that, apply the boy rule.

Boy stands for “because of you.” It means you never lose a chance to credit donors for the good work your organization does.

  1. Call to action

It’s normal to start a conversation with easy, inconsequential small talk (“nice weather we’re having”). We do this to gauge the mood of those we’re talking to and to ease our way to the topic at hand, especially when the topic is difficult.

Let me tell you a secret: nobody is fooled by your fundraising appeal. They don’t think they’re getting a letter from a pal. They know you sent it to ask for money. If you fail to ask, or pretend not to ask, all you accomplish is unclear communication.

So just ask.

You can read more here.


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