Easier Said Than Done: The Magic Words of Fundraising
(And don't think you can get around it by saying "we" or "my spouse" or "everyone I know" when you really mean "I." The evil magic knows what you're up to and will go to work anyway.)
The reason "I" throws you off track is simple: You are not your donor. You are radically different from your donor in several important ways:
â— You are almost certainly younger.
â— You know too much about the cause, and about marketing and fundraising.
â— You have agendas beyond the work at hand. You can hardly help yourself from "multitasking" in your fundraising.
â— You are paying too much attention. You're being paid to read this stuff! Your donor isn't.
All these things can add up to a screwy perception of what matters in your work that is not in any way like your donor's perception. That's what makes you go wrong.
Here are some of the most common forms of damage "I" inflicts on fundraising messages:
Happy talk. You like to outline your successes. You're motivated by your own competence; donors are motivated to solve problems, not reward your excellence. Any description of the situation that makes you feel good is going to be dull and unpersuasive to your donors.
Trendy design. If you think it's cool, it's probably not appropriate. Donors, let's face it, are not the most up-to-date group. Their tastes are mostly decades behind yours. What looks good to them generally will bore and even annoy you. Besides that, hip design often has the unfortunate side effect of being hard to read. (Oh, don't get me started.)
Complexity. You know how complicated things really are. You know it too well. Fundraising works best when the message is clear and simple. Done right, it's going to seem simplistic, repetitive and elementary to you. That's a sign that it's about right.