More 'Programs and Services'? Really?
In July, I ranted on my blog about the "3 Most Boring Words in Fundraising Appeals." They are, to me, "underserved," "programs" and "services." I railed against lazy fundraisers who use lame words and then expect donors to respond with gifts. The problem is there's little passion or energy in so much nonprofit language.
I received tons of feedback from my readers! They got what I was talking about. But they wanted to know what to say instead of those old, boring words. Everybody asked for some substitute words instead of the same old same old. So today, I'm giving you some examples.
I'm taking various wording from appeals from different organizations (some typical nonprofit appeal wording) and trying to transform it to something more compelling that opens a donor's wallet. Here are some examples of "before" and "after" fundraising appeals.
I made up some of these examples, and I also pulled some directly from the Web. (Disclaimer: I'm not a professional copywriter. So my stuff is not perfect. What I'm trying to do is show the direction you need to go in order to communicate to a donor. Also, writing takes serious time and attention. You need to write and rewrite. That's why professional copywriters make a lot of money — they have a rare skill.)
"Please fund our prison literacy program. XXX has designed a powerful program to serve children of prison inmates and their families by creating on-site libraries in prison visiting rooms, giving books for children to take home and keep, supporting prisons' Storybook Programs, and offering literacy seminars for prisoners to help them read with their children."
What's wrong? It uses passive voice: "has designed." It's about the organization and its program, not the result. The first word in the second sentence is the name of the organization. Plus, the sentence is way too long! What does the word "powerful" do for it? Nothing.