Fundraising Copy: Turning ‘Same Song, Another Verse’ Into a Hit
One of the challenges in fundraising — especially with mass communication like direct mail, e-appeals and newsletters — is keeping it fresh. That’s especially true if our missions is narrowly focused. After all, how many times can you say, “People in our city are hungry and need your help” without it becoming white noise?
In reality, donors usually aren’t as “bored” by our messages as we may become. After all, they don’t live with our programs at least eight hours a day, five days a week. But it’s still challenging for fundraisers to keep the excitement in the message and continually remind donors and prospects of what makes the mission worthy of their support.
As you’re planning your communications, here are a few tips for keeping things fresh.
Tell the story differently
Stories in fundraising often follow this rough outline: the problem, our solution, results experienced or hoped for. (Yes, that’s oversimplifying, but we know we aren’t writing the great American novel in our appeals.) Instead, turn the story around, and start from a different point.
Take a look at these two ways to position a story:
- “When we first met Jane three years ago, she was living on the streets, addicted to drugs and willing to do almost anything to find help.”
- “On Sunday morning, Jane’s beautiful voice rang out across the cathedral. There was a quiet hush as the last notes faded. But Jane was almost silenced a few years ago — by a drug deal gone bad …”
I’m not suggesting one is right and the other is wrong. Rather, if you generally go one direction when telling a story, try to turn it around. Tell it from a different perspective. Read other proven appeals that you receive, or look at on Who’s Mailing What! and ask what makes you see a problem in a new light.
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.