I’ve got good news and bad news about fundraising writing. The bad news is writing is always hard. Even experienced writers have a difficult time clearly and briefly stating the purpose in their fundraising writing.
Often, donors are expected to read a few paragraphs before arriving at the main idea. You may think you are doing donors a favor by giving them plenty of information on which to base a decision. Unfortunately, you run the risk of losing their attention.
The good news is there’s an easy trick to cut out all the unnecessary exposition and get right to the point in your fundraising writing so donors can take action.
Why It Takes A While To Get The Point
Whether you are an experienced writer or cringe at the idea of putting pen to paper, nobody escapes the writing process. The first two stages of the writing process are prewriting and drafting.
Prewriting includes thinking, researching, taking notes, brainstorming, and mapping an outline. Drafting is putting your ideas into sentences and supporting your thoughts fully. After a few paragraphs into your draft, you are warmed up, clarity strikes, and you make idea connections. Your draft, however, is likely writer-focused: it’s what you know about the topic.
It All Falls Apart In The Revising Process
Unfortunately, many people fail to revise their fundraising writing properly. After you are done with your draft, you need to think deeply about your donor’s needs and expectations. Look at the draft through the eyes of the donor. Is every paragraph, is every sentence, and is every word in your piece necessary? If not, remove it.
Tip! Don’t permanently delete what you’ve written so far. Copy and paste it to a notepad so that you can refer to it for clever phrases or additional ideas you may wish to develop later.
This Is What Your Donor Wants To Do:
1. Quickly understand the purpose of your appeal.
2. Decide whether they will make a gift.
3. Proceed with the transaction (hopefully!).
4. Move on with their day.
Stop Taking So Long To Wind Up
Donors don’t read fundraising materials the way they do newspaper articles or books. They are likely standing over the trash bin, and you’ve got mere seconds to communicate the need. Otherwise, adios!
Donors won’t stick around waiting for you to finish winding up. Just throw the first pitch – immediately!
What’s the 1 cool trick you should use in your fundraising writing to get to the point quickly?
Start With An 'If-Then' Statement
I learned this trick from Ray Edwards, a copywriting expert. I’ve taken Ray’s copywriting course and read his popular book on writing sales copy. Of all the amazing copywriting ideas and techniques I’ve learned from him, I think the If-Then statement may prove to be the most impactful.
I recommend an If-Then statement right at the beginning of your appeal. It sets the tone and directly communicates the purpose of your fundraising writing.
Here Are 3 Examples of If-Then Statements:
Why An If-Then Statement Is So Powerful
The If-Then statement is such a powerful concept for fundraising writing because the “if” phrase describes the pain donors are feeling or experiencing. They affirm to themselves, “Yes! I’m a caring person. I do believe that.”
The “then” phrase sets the donors up to understand that, through your organization, they can alleviate their pain and do good.
If-Then statements separate the casually interested with those who believe what you believe. Marketing expert Seth Godin often talks about how people want to belong to a tribe — an inner circle — where they have status and connect with others. “People like us do things like this” is a popular mantra of his. If you start your appeal by crafting a compelling If-Then statement, your donors will step forward to make a gift because they are the type of person who helps causes like yours.
Write A Transition After Your If-Then Statement:
Follow your If-Then statement with an appropriate transition. A few examples are
· Here’s the problem.
· Here’s the issue.
· Here’s why.
Now, Briefly Explain The Problem At Hand:
Be sure to use as many words as needed, but as few words as possible. Here are a couple examples of stating the problem or issue.
Crafting a compelling If-Then statement at the beginning of your fundraising writing is helpful to focus your message on the essentials. Your donor will be able to quickly understand the need and realize how their donation makes all the difference.
Do you know why people donate to organizations? Check out my infographic, 25 Reasons People Respond to Fundraising Appeals.