New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

Since joining the Impact team this past fall, I’ve learned a lot about our best practices for fundraising writing. But sometimes I still need a reminder about what strategies are most effective when it comes to making donors feel appreciated and showing them why their gift matters.

So I decided to make a few New Year’s resolutions for my fundraising writing, something I can use as a checklist to run through with each project.

Since I’m probably not the only one who needs these reminders sometimes, here they are…

1)    Where’s the donor? While writing a donor letter or email, make sure you’re working the donor into the text. How often have you used the words “you” and “your?” If you were a donor reading this letter, would you feel like it was written to you personally? Does it speak to the donor’s values? Does it acknowledge her past support? The donor needs to be present in the letter just as much as your organization.

2)    Don’t bury the lede. My journalist Dad started drilling this into me when I first started writing book reports in elementary school. It’s just as applicable to fundraising letters. Don’t make the donor wait to find out why you’re writing to them—tell them right away. On page one, tell them what you’re asking them for, why you need their help and how answering your request will benefit them personally. You can fill in the details on the following pages.

3)    Proof. Then proof again. Then proof one more time. Seriously, there’s nothing more mortifying than realizing later that you missed an egregious typo. Donors want to know your organization pays attention to details and will take great care with how you use their donations. Silly copy mistakes don’t help your credibility.

4)    Feeling stuck? Ask for help. Sometimes you look over a draft, and realize something just isn’t working. Don’t waste time trying to muddle along by yourself. Bounce some ideas off of a friend or colleague. I’m lucky to work with a team of brilliant writers, so a quick brainstorming session always helps get me back on track again.

Those are my fundraising writing resolutions for 2014. How about you? Any professional resolutions you’re working on this year?

– Posted by Julie Price

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