Jeff Brooks brings us this straightforward, no-nonsense guide on how to sharpen our skills in order to be the most effective fundraisers possible. In The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications: Real-World, Field-Tested Strategies for Raising More Money, Brooks provides us with clear-cut, tried and tested methods to bolster our money-raising tactics. Here are the top take-aways.
Tip #1: Set Your Personal Writing Style Aside
Many people with academic or business backgrounds may struggle with the fundraising style, finding it too cliché, too urgent, and too simplistic. The truth of the matter is, it is—and for good reason. Brooks discusses how fundraising writing is not about flaunting the cleverness or education-level of the writer, it’s about raising money effectively for good causes. In order to be a successful fundraising writer, Brooks insists that you must set aside the urge to be poetic, verbose, and creative with your writing. Instead, your focus should be on:
Keeping your writing simple and easy to read.
Outlining a clear story and message that readers can connect with emotionally.
Making requests clear and direct. Ask for what you want.
Tip #2: Creating Effective Content
Many fundraisers make the mistake of trying to shock their audience by using facts and statistics to persuade people into donating money. Brooks discusses the tried and true method of connecting with potential donors by using powerful storytelling. Stories help us make sense of the world; stories move us into action. These stories needn’t be overly-complicated. The best fundraising stories are clear, compelling, and above all, simple. Effective storytelling should incorporate:
A clear account of one person (or small group) and their unique struggle.
Vivid details to evoke a deep emotional response from the reader.
A fundraising ending: the way their donation can make a difference.
Tip #3: Don’t Beat Around the Bush
Donors are busy people with full schedules and demanding lives. It’s your job as an effective fundraising writer to get straight to the point. By making your objective simple and straight-forward you are showing that you respect your reader’s time and energy. Coming out and asking for money can often feel too forward, aggressive, and tactless. But the truth is, everyone recognizes your fundraising appeal for what it is. They know you’ve sent them a letter to ask for money. By failing to ask for money, or pretending not to ask, all we do is confuse our potential donors. In order to raise money for good causes, we must risk the possibility of being perceived as too pushy. As Brooks puts it “the only sure-fire way to avoid [being seen as pushy] is to never raise money.”
Fundraising writing is simple, urgent and at times, it’s cliché. While it won’t show off your prowess as a writer, it is effective because it enables potential donors to engage with your message in no-time-at-all—making it more likely that your call to action will cut through the noise before their attention is drawn elsewhere.
Brooks’ work is a welcome reminder that fundraising is not about you. It’s about connecting potential donors to the inspiring work they can make possible. And the best way to accomplish that is through simplicity, vivid storytelling and no-nonsense call to actions. At Frontier, we consider these words to live by!