We may live in a very digital world, but many fundraising programs are still leveraging the power of direct response fundraising such as mail and email. In a world with more and more video content, there is still a powerful and crucial place for writing to inspire action.
Take a look at your own donation history. How many of them have been inspired by something you read? Probably quite a few.
If you are looking for new ways to inspire your donors through writing, here are a few writing devices you can try.
Values into Action
Philanthropy, at its core, is an opportunity for people to live out their values through giving. But too often non-profits take a narrow view of what values motivate donors to give. For example, I read a lot of appeals each year that start and stop with the value of “giving back to the community.”
Sure, this is undoubtedly a value that motivates many donors. But they have other values that have encouraged them to align their giving with your non-profit. Identify those and weave them into your writing.
For example, a food bank donor may have a value that everyone should have access to food. Another example — a donor to a local theater company may have a value that the arts are an important staple in community culture.
The best fundraising writing identifies these values and shows donors how their deeper values are enacted through giving.
Define what Giving says about them
One of the most important articles I wrote in 2017 is about this very concept. In it, I shared that every fundraising email must answer the question, “What does it say about me?”
This is an incredibly important question to answer for your audience. Not only does it help them see the sides of an issue, it helps them see the values that are at play on each side.
If you need to unpack this for your organization you need to ask the question, “What does donating to our organization say about someone?” For example, what does supporting my alma mater say about me? What does donating to a hospital foundation say about me? What does supporting animal welfare say about me? What does donating to environmental conservation say about me?
To give you an example of an answer to this question, donating to rape crisis center says a donor believes women and wants them to heal.
Engage them in a story
Given that I’ve written a book on storytelling, this writing device likely comes as zero surprise. Let’s talk about how it works.
In every story, there are sides. Right and wrong, good and evil. There are the heroes and the villains. There is suspense about what may happen. There is a call for the heroes (and donors) to make a choice. In conveying these things through your story, you help donors see how they are fundamentally on board with what your organization stands for. They are ready to answer the call to step up and donate.
It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to provide donors with all of the technical details and statistics of what your organization does. But donors are humans and humans aren’t always logical. Telling them a story that aims for the heart may be the thing that is able to persuade them.
There you have it. Three writing devices you can use to inspire donors to action. These devices are best used together, not alone.
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