Fundraising Copywriting: Stop the War!
Fundraisers! Copywriters! Let us unite to stop the war on ...
- And on and on
In fact, can we unite in agreement to stop using overbaked rhetoric as a substitute for compelling copy?
There's no better place to start than by stopping, "The War On ..."
War is an atrocity. It's the most horrific, wasteful, stupid and tragic way mankind has ever come up with to settle disputes. To equate it with a spat over whether to put up a crèche in city hall is a slap in the face to those who've lost their lives, their families, even their countries to the horror of war.
In the long run, extreme rhetoric does more harm than good. We worry about donor fatigue, as well we should. One way to reduce it is to make sure it doesn't become battle fatigue.
When every challenge is treated as if the fate of mankind hangs in the balance, it doesn't take long for the messages, and the emotions, to run together in donors' minds.
Be clear: This is not about arguing whether one organization's work is more important than another's.
This is a copywriting challenge.
A good writer must be able to convince the reader that the issue he or she is writing about matters deeply, and the donor's financial support is needed urgently.
But the line between urgency and hysteria is drawn with good judgment. And good writing.
Think about it this way: A book like "Crime and Punishment" tackles big themes and muses on the greatest mysteries facing mankind. By comparison, the fates of the sisters in "Little Women" are prosaic and tame. Yet when Jo March's discovers that Professor Bhaer loves her after all, our tears are no less heartfelt than at Raskalnikov's moment of cosmic redemption.
Willis Turner believes great writing has the power to change minds, save lives, and make people want to dance and sing. Willis is the creative director at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He worked as a lead writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 15 years before making the switch to fundraising 20 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, and collateral communications materials that get attention, tell powerful stories and persuade people to take action or make a donation.