Story Styles That Open Readers' Wallets, Part 1
Case studies can use powerful stories to grab readers' hearts, then focus their minds on your problem-solving abilities. They show you have the personnel, expertise, talent, infrastructure and commitment to accomplish your mission.
There three challenges built into the case-study format. The first is to be interesting. Case studies lend themselves to dryness, so be careful to keep the client front and center. Use active language, and remember that the purpose of the story is to persuade someone to give you money. Be sincere and personal.
The second challenge is to talk about all the wonderful things you do, without allowing the letter to become too organization-centric. Even as you talk about yourself, keep your focus on the reader. For example, each time you talk about some great thing your organization does, preface it a some qualifier like, "Thanks to the caring support of friends like you ..."
Third, take care to describe your processes without getting bogged down in detail and losing the human element of your story. Don't let the client in your story become a cardboard, stereotyped "needy person." Give her some personality, e.g., "Tonya's transformation took us all by surprise. As her fear subsided, her young face brightened, and her easy smile and dry humor began to show through."
It takes a little extra effort, and often some extra homework, to make case studies compelling enough to persuade a reader to reach for her wallet. But that's what you're there for, right? If it were easy, anybody could do it.
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.