The 11 Commandments of Fundraising, Part 2
All that is very good and very important donor action. But we can inadvertently set ourselves up for income failure if we give the impression that it is an either/or proposition. Given the choice, donors often choose the easiest alternative — praying, signing or telling — and feel they adequately responded to your request without giving.
Make sure you make it clear that you need both (or all) actions from your donors. "Please sign the enclosed petition and return it with your gift of $25 or more" makes it clear that signing and giving go hand in hand. "As you send your donation to help us meet this need, please pray for the people we will be helping" is another way to show that giving is not an optional extra.
Make sure your donors know exactly what you want from them — and you'll improve the likelihood that they will respond accordingly.
Commandment No. 7: Thou shalt write like people speak
Why is it that when people's names go on a direct-mail letter or e-appeal, they want to sound like they studied in the school of Shakespearian speech? Why do some websites read like they were written by a committee? Long sentences, advanced vocabulary words, insider acronyms — what these all have in common is they get into our copy and can depress results. (The exception is direct mail to people who do speak like that — lawyers or English professors, for example. But for average people, heed this advice.)
Fundraising is all about talking to people, helping them see the need and getting them to understand how they can help meet that need. To make sure your copy communicates that message, always read it out loud before you consider it done. If you stumble in your reading, you can assume your reader will also stumble. Work on that section or sentence until it flows perfectly when you read it out loud again. (It is good practice to do this in the privacy of your office, not in the local coffee shop. You don't want to be known as the neighborhood flake.)
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.