Copywriting

10 Copywriting Secrets From a Legendary Author
October 25, 2016 at 10:18 am

I recently came across the late Elmore Leonard's "10 Rules of Writing." Leonard was a novelist, most famously of crime fiction. But his rules apply surprisingly well to fundraising writing. Here are the first five, along with my annotations for fundraisers: Never open a book with weather. (Probably not a good idea for a fundraising…

Beware the Three-Verb Fumble in Your Writing
October 10, 2016 at 9:59 am

Committee writing is a terrible thing: lifeless, drab, confusing, unmotivating. One place most often afflicted by committee writing: taglines. They're small and short—and a lot of people in the organization care about them. Every cook crowds into the kitchen, and the result is predictable: stew. And not the good kind. And committee-style stew-writing is so…

Writing Winning Direct Mail Appeals
October 7, 2016 at 9:19 am

Conversations with a few clients have led me to believe that if you ask 10 different development professionals what makes a good appeal letter, you will get 10 different answers. What really makes a good appeal, though, is its ability to connect people to how they can make an impact in an area they care deeply about. Here's how you can write one that does just that...

Are You Bragging Too Much to Donors?
October 6, 2016 at 11:33 am

Have you been to a party and got stuck in a conversation with someone who talked too much about him or herself, or bragged about all the wonderful things he or she has done? You roll your eyes in frustration and plan your escape to the drinks table. Imagine your donors having the same reaction…

How to Tell Inspiring Stories About Employee Giving, Engagement
October 6, 2016 at 11:12 am

Companies and nonprofits that manage employee giving and volunteering programs are quite adept at the processes and practices that keep these programs humming. Yet they often struggle to find and tell stories that show how the generosity of employees is making a difference. Effective storytelling is a key ingredient of your marketing and communications efforts.…

Nonprofit Communication: Features Versus Benefits
October 5, 2016 at 11:01 am

I recently had the pleasure of working with a homeless services nonprofit (not named to protect the innocent). Its challenge was engaging donors beyond the first gift—and its donor retention rates were in the basement. During our first meeting, I asked: "Tell me what you do and why your organization matters?" The director of communications looked…

64 Wordy Phrases to Eliminate From Your Writing (And Alternatives)
September 29, 2016 at 8:00 am

We’ve all read those mission statements or fundraising appeals that seem to have smart ideas, but when you take a closer look you realize they just have a lot of words. Shorter is nearly always better. Replace these wordy phrases with their concise alternatives...

6 Ways to Improve Your Annual Fundraising Appeal
September 28, 2016 at 8:00 am

The end of the year will be here before you know it! Are you working on your year-end appeal? Crafting fundraising appeals and end-of-year campaigns is not rocket science, but you do have to adhere to certain guidelines if you want to achieve blastoff. So, here come some guidelines!...

5 Long-Time Direct Mail Controls and Why They Still Work
September 20, 2016 at 9:47 am

People ask me all the time what type of direct mail is most worth studying for ideas. Even before I mention whatever is being mailed in their industry, I recommend the Grand Controls. These are the best packages, the box office champions that have driven the most customer and donor response. A few weeks ago, I pored through my database of 1,672 of them to find the longest-running controls still in the mail today...