Hot Copy to Melt Hearts During the Cold Months
What stands out? What is immediately compelling? There's your hook.
Once you have your hook and you're ready to write, don't overwhelm your readers with information. Maybe there's one anecdote that embodies your hook. Perhaps there's one compelling statistic that brings it all home. Donors are busy people — never more so than during the holidays, when they also happen to receive year-end appeals from every other organization they've ever been in touch with.
3. Don't dawdle
Whatever it is you write to support your hook, get to the point. There are a couple of simple things you can do to write more directly and more compellingly.
- Avoid "being" verbs. It's amazing how much crisper your prose gets simply by cutting out be, is, are or am. It forces you to find action verbs to talk about your work, which (guess what?) makes your work sound a lot more exciting.
- Avoid passive voice. This is common advice, and passive voice is tricky to recognize. The use of passive voice often comes out of the humility that drew us to work in the nonprofit sector in the first place. It is perhaps not in our natures to be braggarts.
But using active voice requires that you own your good work and your success. Instead of saying, "Clients are referred to stellar services," go with, "We refer clients to stellar services." Note the being verb in the first sentence, often an indication of passive voice. You have a role to play in the lives of your clients, so be sure to own it.
Finding a strong hook for your story along with using active verbs and active voice help your prose dance across the page, and before your donors even know what's happening, they've read your entire appeal. It's just a short step from there to that all-important end-of-year donation. FS