5 Ways to Use One Powerful Fundraising Word
"They need your help" heaps guilt upon the reader, but the good kind. The kind that motivates her to do something. You say, "These children need your help right away," and your reader envisions innocent, little, upturned faces gazing at her with sad, hopeful eyes. She can't just turn her back on them, can she?
"Will you help?" tells the reader she has a choice to make. Yet, even as it seems to give her the option of helping, it ramps up the pressure. "Will you help" also reads as a positive ask, suggesting the good things that will happen if she makes a gift.
"Won't you help?" on the other hand, has a darker tone. It implies that, if the reader is not part of the solution, she is part of the problem. It's an extension of Edmund Burke's idea that, "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
There's one more important type of help: the help you give your reader, by making her job easier. You do this, first, by breaking down your mission into bite-sized, easily digestible pieces. There's no good reason to spell out your every program in detail or fill her head with a lot of information she'll never remember. You don't eradicate poverty; you help a child find safe shelter for the night. You don't clean up after a disaster; you help the Anderson family rebuild its home.
Second, you help your reader by reducing the abstract down to the tangible. No matter how urgent the need, there is no feeling of humanity in a vast, faceless population. It is mind-numbing to consider that 16.4 million children live in poverty.
So you turn the mob of people in need into one hungry little girl. That is a manageable problem. One your donor can wrap her head and heart around. And one she's a lot more likely to respond to.
Willis believes in expressive writing, exceptional fundraising, and exuberant living.
Willis Turner is the senior copywriter at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He was an experienced writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 20 years before making the switch to fundraising nearly 15 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, as well as collateral materials and communications, that get attention, tell emotional stories, and persuade people to take action or make a donation.