7 Ways to Use Verbal Images to Pull Donors Into Your Appeal
A verbal image is specific. You want to include the details that paint the picture. If your image is of a little girl in poverty, is she wearing a dress, or is it a mint-green smock that’s an orphanage hand-me-down, frayed at the seams, too big for her and smudged with dirt? You have to judge how far to go here. You don’t want to pile on endless details for no reason. But specific, relevant details sharpen your images.
You can use verbal images to make just about every part of your offer and your appeal more compelling for donors, keeping in mind that the images should be based in fact and not just made-up. A verbal image is an effective way to …
1. Present the need
A verbal image can show donors why their support is vital, giving them a clear, specific problem to solve. Instead of simply saying, “Children are dying in poor countries,” you can use a verbal image: “A little boy sick with tuberculosis, lying in a remote clinic in Tajikistan, explodes into a deep, heaving cough, bringing up blood, shuddering in pain. He needs someone like you.” With the verbal image, the need is more immediate and more urgent.
2. Convey the leverage in your offer
Let’s say your offer involves multiplying your donor’s gift 30 times. You can just write, “Your gift multiplies 30 times in impact.” But you can also go a step further and add an image: “It’s like you just reached into your pocket for a dollar bill and pulled out $30 instead — because now every $1 you give will multiply 30 times in impact …” The image makes the offer more interesting, relevant and memorable.
3. Show donor involvement
Naturally you want your donors to feel that they’re part of your nonprofit’s work, not just bystanders with checkbooks. A verbal image can do that, showing donors how they’re involved in a like-you’re-right-there-with-us kind of way: “Picture this. You take your seat on the cargo plane, cinching the seat belt tight. On your left are the boxes of medical supplies you’re delivering. After hours of flight, the plane touches down with a screech on a blacktop airstrip in the Congo rain forest. As dusk falls, you load the supplies into the waiting jeep and bump down a rutted dirt road, headlights searching the way.”
George Crankovic is an experienced, award-winning fundraising copywriter and strategist, he helps nonprofits reach and engage their donors through multichannel direct response, combining strategy, messaging, offer and audience to maximize results for acquisition, cultivation and reactivation. With a proven track record in marketing communications and fundraising, George has worked with blue-chip nonprofits from The Salvation Army, to Project HOPE, to World Relief, to The Red Cross and more nationwide.
An in-demand writer, George has published articles in Fundraising Success magazine, Nonprofit Pro magazine and other national publications. He is a guest blogger at Jeff Brooks’ Future Fundraising Now site, and he blogs at www.marketing-fundraising.com.