Tagged: Writing

Celebrate Joy and Grow Through Sorrow

msIw0Ke

When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate, when life is bitter, say thank you and grow. ~ unknown

What an amazing journey we’re on!
Life is a gift.
Its ebbs and flows.
Its highs and lows.
The connections we make and break.
The joys and sorrows we experience.
Each one of our paths; unique
a combination of choice and circumstance.

Sometimes courageously following our dreams. Inspiring and encouraging others to follow theirs. Take hold of ‘moments of joy’ – treasure them in your heart. They will carry you through the hard times.

Other times we are paralyzed by fear. These times make us empathetic and patient with others who are afraid.

Embrace every part of who you are.
Rippling effects that change the course of our path, that teach us if we let them. Or haunt us until we are teachable.
Life is a gift.
A beautiful and precious gift.
Don’t squander it.
Don’t take it for granted.
Be grateful for every opportunity given.
Even our mistakes have meaning when viewing our lives in this way.

Getting What You Need By Getting To The Point

To write well, express yourself like the common people, but think like a wise man. – Aristotle

imagesI KNOW, I KNOW, YOU HAVE PUT A LOT OF WORK into the structuring of what you do, so naturally you want to show the world the logic behind it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s impressive but it’s frustrating to wade through all that information for those who might be interested in helping you.

Time is a luxury for people nowadays. They lead very busy lives. You only have a brief window of time to catch their attention and inspire them to support you.

Following are 7 Dos and Don’ts to keep in mind when writing fundraising copy:

  1. Do use short sentences with easy-to-understand words.
  2. Do write as if you’re having a conversation with one person. Determine who your typical donor is. Write your copy as if to her.
  3. Do say thank you right up front. Don’t ask for more before you’ve said thank you for the last gift!
  4. Do Include a compelling story about how one of your clients has succeeded and link it back to the support of your donor.
  5. Do Provide one strong call to action and a convenient way for your reader to respond.
  6. Do invite your reader into a deeper relationship with your organization.
  7. Do say thank you again.

Writing fundraising copy is an art that often defies the traditional rules of writing. Why not consider these 7 benefits of contracting a professional to write your fundraising copy? They can ensure that your letter:

  1. is all about the donor and how (s)he makes a difference
  2. is free of jargon and industry terminology
  3. is easy to read and understand
  4. tells a compelling story and links it to the efforts of your donor
  5. has a clear ask
  6. includes a response device and offers other easy options for donating to your organization
  7. provides contact information and invites donors to share their ideas and questions with you

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Building a Case for Direct Mail

untitled2When a direct mail piece doesn’t yield the results your organization expects, they may be tempted to never do it again.

Or if your organization has never sent a fundraising letter, it may be hard to convince them to even try it.

And even if your organization is willing to send one, they may insist on sending an ineffective fundraising letter.

It’s very tempting for executive directors to scrap the idea when a letter flops. It can also be difficult to convince well-meaning leadership staff that asking is not a bad thing, or that fundraising copy is different from program descriptions and marketing copy.

As a fundraising professional you already know that direct mail is one stream of revenue in a diversified fund development strategy that will help you meet your organization’s fundraising goal. So how do you convince your organization to be on board with it?

You can gather industry data that shows proven results. You can speak to other organizations who have had success with direct mail. But what if your organization still seems unconvinced?

Proposing a test may be the answer.

In the case where an organization insists on sending their usual type of letter written by someone who is not a fundraising professional, propose a portion of the list receive a professional fundraising letter. Let the results speak for you.

In the case that the organization has never sent a fundraising letter, sending one to a portion of your constituents as a test may be an option. Asking does result in giving.

Once you have a robust direct mail program, testing key variables on portions of your mailing list continues to ensure that you are sending the most effective direct mail package.

Asking people to donate through your direct mail program is an important part of your organization’s diversified fund development plan.

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Why I Write

Telling stories is the best way to teach, persuade, and even understand ourselves. ~ Psychology Today – The Power of Stories

photo credit: artistdaily.com

photo credit: artistdaily.com

Dennis Fischman is a communications and social media expert who challenged me to write a post about why I write. I have a great deal of respect for his work and have learned a lot reading his blog: Communicate. To see his reason for writing, click here and while you’re there have a look at some of his other posts – I am sure you will find them as useful as I have.

I can remember my mother reading to my brother and me long before we could read and write ourselves. I credit her for my love of words.

Early on in elementary school, my love for words and stories blossomed. I can distinctly remember a writing assignment where we were asked to write a 3-page composition.

I wrote 16 pages!

I also remember sitting at the feet of my grandfather, asking questions and hearing stories about his childhood and the war, totally mesmerized and learning, perhaps, about why our family is the way that we are.

Stories connect us and also have the power to transport us to places and situations we have not personally experienced, yet they connect us emotionally to the rest of humanity. One might not personally know how it feels to be homeless, for example, but we can all relate to how it feels to be helpless and alone.

Personally, at my blog TALKTODIANA  I get to combine my love of writing with my passion for community through the sharing of stories and my personal philosophies.  Hosting a blog has opened up an online community of people and their stories and human experiences to me that I wouldn’t have otherwise known; further enabling me to learn from the experiences of others through the comments they leave on my posts and the stories that they share on their own blogs.

Professionally, through my blog here at The Other Bottom Line, I am able to share my knowledge and 20+ years of experience in the non-profit sector – particularly in fundraising. Writing here also feeds my passion for community and hopefully inspires non-profits to properly care for their donors. After all, the human experience is built on relationships.

Non-profits have an important story to tell their communities about the vital work that they do. A well told story that includes donors and how they affect change with their generosity, inspires others to get involved.

Equally important, are the stories of donors and volunteers. Why they give, what their passions are; how they connect with the non-profits they support.

Our individual stories are threads that connect with the stories of others and together they fit into a beautiful tapestry of the greater story of humanity. Writing, for me, is an effective, powerful and satisfying way to contribute to that tapestry.

Thanks for reading and now I pass the torch to Mary Cahalane over at Hands-on Fundraising. Mary, who has 30 years experience in the non-profit sector, is the owner of Hands-on Fundraising and helps non-profits to reach their fundraising goals. She really gets the importance of relationships with donors and I can’t wait to read her post on why she writes.

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Consistency = TRUST

consistency

I often hear people say, “Our messages are old, we need to think of something new and catchy.”

I get it. You are bored with putting out the same message day after day. You want something fresh, something exciting – something that will go viral!

But here’s the thing. Who you are, what you do and what you say about what you do is NOT boring. It may seem that way to you, but to your stakeholders your consistent messaging builds trust.

Think of it this way. In your personal relationships the glue that holds you together is consistency – a component of integrity. Your spouse, your children, your friends know you. They know what you value. They can predict how you will respond to a given situation. They know what you stand for. They can even quote your favourite sayings!

Imagine what would happen to their trust if you constantly changed what you put out there?

What seems old to you is consistent branding to your stakeholders. Consistency builds trust.

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Looking In From The Outside – Improving Your Fundraising Copy

dilbert-5-17-12

YOU WANT EVERYONE to know about all the great work you’re doing. Not only that, you want them to know why your methods work and you have reams of data to back it up. Granted, you are very knowledgeable in your field and judging by your copy, it’s obvious that you are more than happy to educate everyone.  And if you do it right, you can even show them how clever you are and dazzle them with your creativity and witty intelligence, right? Wrong.

This may be impressive in a staff meeting with your colleagues or while clinking glasses with your peers, but when writing fundraising copy, you will not see the results you’re looking for with this approach. Don’t hesitate to seek help, especially if you don’t have a fundraising professional on staff.

Why not consider these 7 benefits of contracting a professional to write your fundraising letter or do an audit of your current copy? They can ensure that your letter:

  • is all about the donor and how (s)he makes a difference
  • is free of jargon and industry terminology
  • is easy to read and understand
  • tells a compelling story and links it to the efforts of your donor
  • has a clear ask
  • includes a response device and offers other easy options for donating to your organization
  • provides contact information and invites donors to share their ideas and questions with you

How do you make sure your fundraising letter is the best it can be?

The purpose of The Other Bottom Line is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

7 Tips for Writing Fundraising Copy

Every organization needs support from the community because with that support organizations can get on with fulfilling their mission. Receiving support from the community requires organizations to be accountable to those who support them.

One of the ways to remain accountable is through written communications; whether it’s a fundraising letter, thank you letter, newsletter, email, print media, or social media, written copy enables organizations to communicate en masse and keep their community updated.

Following are 7 tips to keep in mind when writing copy:

  • Do use short sentences with easy-to-understand words. Ask yourself, can your communication be read and understood by a busy person between meetings? If not, chances are they will not pick up your copy to read it a second time.
  • Do write as if you’re having a conversation with one person. If you’re writing fundraising copy for example, determine who your typical donor is. Is it a 55 year-old woman? Write your copy as if to her. Read your copy out loud; does it flow like a conversation?
  • Do say thank you right up front. You can never say Thank you too much. Let’s face it, your important work would be close to impossible without the support of your community! Don’t ask for more before you’ve said thank you!
  • Do Include a compelling story about how one of your clients has succeeded and link it back to the support of your reader. Don’t make it about you.
  • Do Provide a strong call to action and a convenient way for your reader to respond. This can be as simple as including a return envelope, an online link, and a phone number. Don’t dilute your message with multiple ways to contribute – this confuses the message and often results in no response at all.
  • Do invite your reader into a deeper relationship with your organization by offering a tour of your facility, or including your phone number so they can call you, or inviting your reader to share their ideas, etc. Don’t make your reader feel as though they aren’t in-the-know enough to make a valuable contribution to your organization.
  • Do say thank you again. Thank them for what they’ve done. Thank them for considering another way they can help. Thank them for their valuable feedback and ideas!

Relationships with people in an organization’s supporting community, although different from personal relationships, share similar requisites; such as open communication and honesty. What are some other similarities shared?

From the perspective of a community member, what are the things you would want to hear from the organization you support?