The 3 Most Boring Words in Fundraising Appeals
Give me a word that grabs me. A word that evokes an emotional response. A word that will open my wallet.
Next ... drumroll, please:
The next worst two words in fundraising go together: "Programs and Services."
Gosh, what would we say if we couldn't use these words?!
- "Please support our xxx program."
- "Please support our xxx services."
Here's the problem with "programs and services." These words are watered down. They are overused.
These words are not specific enough to have any impact. They are a lazy person's shortcut language. A lazy person who doesn't want to go to the effort to really describe what you are doing.
Here's an example: Say your organization operates a project to teach illiterate prison inmates how to read.
The lazy fundraiser would say: "Support our prison literacy program."
The smart fundraiser would say: "You can help illiterate prisoners learn to read."
Now which phrase has more bang? Which has more energy? Which is more compelling? Which word can break my heart? Which would open my wallet?
And note the donor-centered approach from the smart fundraiser ("you") vs. the organization-centered approach ("our") from the lazy fundraiser.
In a fundraising letter you have to do two important things:
- Evoke the donor's emotion.
- Then ask for a gift.
So where do our least favorite words fall? They deaden the emotion. So they are no use to you!
I can't raise any money with these words. And I bet you can't either.