FP#8 🚀 Fundraising Writing Tips From a TikTok and Twitter Meme?

published4 months ago
4 min read

Showing instead of telling...
a child sitting in a cardboard box pretending to be in a spaceship
Give your fundraising copywriting a boost by showing instead of telling.

Welcome to the 8th issue of Fundraising Players. FP is about fundraising, writing, donors, life. Thanks for being here. The idea for this issue is thanks to writer and marketer Ann Handley. For a few weeks, I've been pondering how to apply something she wrote about to fundraising practice. 🤔 I'm ready to share it with you...

Chicago, Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Hi ,

As I was walking by the women's clothing department at Kohl's, I saw a thing of beauty.


Instantly, I thought, "I've gotta have it."

I could imagine enveloping myself in this brightly colored, bell-sleeved tunic top. It reminded me of something familiar. Maybe I owned a similar top at one time. In the 90s? Ah... the nostalgia.

I looked at the price tag. Not bad. Plus, I had a 20% off coupon in my purse! Plus PLUS: it wasn’t too casual yet it wasn’t too fancy either. I could wear it out to dinner and while vacuuming. (So darn functional!)

Win-win! 🙌

This sort of thing happens often to me. And I bet it happens to you too.

The item itself doesn't matter. It could be the latest John Grisham book, a new car, or even an adoptable dog you see on your Facebook news feed.

We make buying choices—and decisions in general—based on our emotions. We want what our heart desires.

Then we back up that strong feeling with loads of practical reasons.

Our minds are funny like that.

Our donors' minds are like that too.

Donors first decide to give because their hearts are touched. 💕 Then they justify the donation with logic. 🧠

But it starts with a feeling.

Two shepherd dogs. One hugs the other with its two front legs.

That's why stories are so important in fundraising. Showing the need instead of just telling helps connect donors to the people they help. Our descriptive language matters.

There's a meme on TikTok and Twitter:

Tell Me Without Telling Me

  • Tell me you’re a middle child without telling me you're a middle child.
  • Tell me you're from the Midwest without telling me you're from the Midwest.
  • Tell me you’ve been single a long time without telling me you’ve been single a long time.

The idea is to stretch your thinking to share interesting insider clues to make your writing come to life... so you can connect with people better. Here are a few examples:

  • Tell me you’re a middle child without telling me your a middle child: “When I was a freshman in college, I came home for winter break to my house… that was empty. I had to call my mom and she said, ‘Oh yeah, we moved to another town.’”
  • Tell me you're from the Midwest without telling me you're from the Midwest: “We need a new garden hose, some flannel shirts, and BBQ sauce. Let's go to Menards!”
  • Tell me you’ve been single a long time without telling me you’ve been single a long time: "I’ve started to say 'swipe right' for things that I just 'like' unrelated to men."

"Tell Me Without Telling Me" is a great way to boost your writing so that the reader can feel the sentiment... instead of just reading a boring description.

Here's one posted on Twitter:

Tell me you're a fundraiser without telling me you're a fundraiser

Responses were funny and heartwarming. Here are my favorites. Notice how each reply takes a different approach of what it's like to be a fundraiser. A little slice of life.

After reading these, you probably feel something quite different than if you were to read a standard job description of a fundraiser. 😴

Showing and not just telling helps put us in the minds of our audience so they can better connect to our message emotionally.



Tell Me: Donate to give a child a home.

Tell Me Without Telling Me:
I want to live in your heart
Not on the streets
Thanks for not looking the other way.

Girl with neutral expression. Words: I want to live in your heart not on the streets.
via Vida Joven de Mexico


Tell Me: P.S. Please make a donation to feed and clothe someone.

Tell Me Without Telling Me:
P.S. A hot meal and a cup of tea, a set of clothes and socks – this is what you could provide for someone like Peter with your donation...

Image of the MQI logo and the text as shown above.
via Merchants Quay Ireland


Tell Me: Help children like Mamarou

Tell Me Without Telling Me: Mamarou will probably never find a sponsor

A boy from Malawi, named Mamarou, looks to us with a neutral expression. The envelope reads what is shown above in the text.
via Save the Children


Tell Me: MSI has both an illustrious history and a focus on the future of science and science education.

Tell Me Without Telling Me:
At MSI, you can design your own tsunami waves, step inside the only German submarine in the United States, and watch as baby chicks hatch each and every day.

via Museum of Science and Industry Chicago


Tell Me: Sign up to receive our newsletter

Tell Me Without Telling Me:
Stay in the know
Be ready to act

A pop-up form to obtain an email address.
via IFAW


Okay, . If you'd like to try your hand at "telling without telling," here's your chance:

  1. Find a tiny piece of copy to modify. Look at your donation landing page. Emails. Newsletters. Blog. Appeal letters. Homepage. Facebook ads. You pick.
  2. Rewrite it from "Tell Me" to "Tell Me Without Telling Me." Email it to me or —better yet—post it on Twitter (tag me @gocooper).

I'll be happy to to highlight the best few in the next issue of Fundraising Players!


5 SECRETS OF FUNDRAISING COPYWRITING — I'll be a guest on Ephraim Gopin's exclusive subscriber webinar next Wednesday, May 19. 🤩 In this live conversation, I'll be talking to Ephraim and you about...

✅ Which part of your appeal you should write first
✅ How to create a plan before you start typing
✅ Where you should spend extra time
✅ Storytelling tips and best practices
✅ Who you’re really designing your appeal for
...And much more!

To sign up for this webinar, you first need to sign up for Ephraim's super helpful daily (Mon–Thurs) nonprofit newsletter here.

* * * * *

ARE YOU A MEMBER OF THE FUNDRAISINGOLOGY LAB? If you are, attend the workshop today! I will be co-presenting with Moceanic Co-Founder Christiana Stergiou on Your Fundraising Success Path. Check your inbox today for the deets from the Moceanic team. If you're not a member yet, get on the waitlist. Membership only opens a couple of times a year. ⏳

You're really doing great work, . Keep making your fundraising communications come to life. 🐣 See you next time!

All my best,

An image of Julie Cooper

Julie Cooper
JB Cooper LLC
Fundraising Copywriter

PS: Did someone forward you this email? Get your own free subscription here.🚀

I respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time