Easier Said Than Done: The Magic Words of Fundraising
After years of research in the Semantics and Syntax Department at Easier Said Than Done Labs, our scientists have uncovered a startling pair of facts: There are two words in fundraising so powerful they seem to be magic. One has the power to do great good, while the other can cast your fundraising into terrible perdition.
I don’t want to encourage superstition, but seriously, these words pack a wallop; you might want to carve them into two large stones and plant the first one to your east and the second to your west so you’ll never forget them or use them lightly.
The good word
You. The power of “you” comes from this fact: All fundraising is about one thing — the donor. Everything else — your amazing methodology and competence, your philosophy, your brand, your budget needs, everything — falls behind the donor in importance.
(While researching the word “you,” our scientists discovered that the power only resides in the singular form of the word, not the plural, which is flabby and lifeless by comparison. You’ll note that “you” singular and plural are exactly the same in most dialects of English. Nevertheless, one has the magic; the other doesn’t.)
Donors don’t give because of who you are. They give because of who they are. Effective fundraising works with this fact, not against it. An effective message tells the story of how Ms. Donor can change the world through your organization. Ineffective fundraising struggles to make compelling the story of how your organization is changing the world and how Ms. Donor can get involved, too. I’m boring myself just describing that kind of fundraising to you. It’s even more boring for donors.
A few years ago, I was asked to create a fundraising letter template to help novice writers write decent letters. I worked for days to come up with a universal and useful outline of fundraising requirements. Then the solution dawned on me. It looks like this: