profile

Subscribe to the Fundraising Writing Newsletter

Fundraising question: β€œWill you take out the umms and ahs?”

Published 6 months agoΒ β€’Β 4 min read

Sometimes you just gotta move it ... and PIVOT! This is the 104th issue of the Fundraising Writing Newsletter. If you find value here, please tell your lovely peeps. (Your lovely peeps can ​subscribe here for free.)​

In this issue:

  • Fundraising question: β€œWill you take out the umms and ahs?”
  • Right around the corner: Tom Ahern's appeal writing webby (featuring Jeff Brooks and Julie Cooper)
  • Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you
  • Win It in a Minute

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Hi Reader,

We are packing up and moving down the road β€” next week! So Brett and I are currently extra busy.

We've got boxes that are packed and stacked.

And we've got boxes that are unpacked and stacked.

Since we're in full-on gung-ho moving mode β€”

I'm reminded me of this . . .


Fundraising question: β€œWill you take out the umms and ahs?”

That's because the short answer to this question is:

  1. Remove
  2. Move
  3. Clarify (Okay, this one has nothing to do with moving, but 2 outta 3 ain't bad!)

But wait. You need context. And the long answer.

Context:

During a recent interview for a generosity report we're writing for a client, the interviewee asked, "Will you take out the umms and ahs?"

The long answer:

Yes, we will! ​
​
Interviews used for donor comms should always make the interviewee look and sound good. The idea is that the final piece should be representative, not verbatim.

You might say, β€œWe will make you sound as eloquent as we hear you in our hearts.”

Because, really, when we listen to someone in person our hearts filter out the umms and ahs and anything similarly slightly off β€” such as grammatical errors and circumlocution.

Therefore . . .

  1. Remove. Take out those "verbal tics" that add nothing to the conversation.
    ​
  2. Move. If the interviewee said something amazing in (oh, let's just randomly say) sentence #3 and something awesome in (let's call it) sentence #33 β€”
    ​
    β€” with nothing too interesting in between β€”
    ​
    β€” then you should feel free to move these two sentences together.
    ​
    You could even swap them. Sentence #33 could come first. Sentence #3 could come last.
    ​
    (Just to be clear: don't actually bother to count the sentences. That's not the point!)
    ​
    By joining any amazing and awesome sentences and deleting the rest, the gist of the message will be better served. The person you interviewed will ironically sound more like themselves.
    ​
  3. Clarify. Sometimes you just need to tweak the actual words someone said ever so slightly, for clarity.
    ​
    If in Sentence #33 (mentioned above) the person you interviewed used the word "they" β€” but now, due to your word shuffling, using a pronoun out of context would be unclear ... then make it clear.
    ​
    E.g., swap out "they" for "[Name]".

BUT keep in mind: you don't want to change so much that you lose the person's voice. Be sure to preserve some of their slang and informality to retain the sense of the unique and the element of the human. This feels more real.

Once you've done all your editing, it should feel natural.

Send the copy you've written to the interviewee for approval. Ideally, they'll read it and think: "Yeah, that sounds like me."

It's our job as writers β€” we do the hard work of making it seem easy. πŸ˜ƒ


Right around the corner: Tom Ahern's appeal writing webby

Time to get moving?

Have you registered for Tom Ahern's appeals writing webinar on September 14th?

If so, yay!

If not . . . and you are now or soon will be writing your year-end appeal . . . and you do not feel 100% confident . . .

. . . then I urge you to learn all about Tom's webby here.

(featuring guest expert Jeff Brooks!

and I will be moderating)

You can register via this informational page.

Or you can click this friendly red button:

After the webinar, you’ll receive learning materials including a video replay of the full 1.5-hour training plus the all-you-can-eat Q&A session...
​
(Which sessions can and usually do last for hours β€” and you can easily get your money's worth just by partaking of this unique smorgasbord of up-to-the-minute questions answered before your eyes and ears in real time!)


Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you

For your brain, heart, and funny bone...


Until next time: May your donor comms always make people sound more like who they really are, because they deserve it!

Grateful,

PS: Here's an old favorite from our weekly video series, Win It in a Minute. You can (and maybe want to?) subscribe here.

A webinar attendee asks: β€œHow do I create urgency when things often take several years (to see the full impact)?”

Click below for Tom's answer...

video preview​

Subscribe to the Fundraising Writing Newsletter

Hi! We're Julie Cooper and Brett Cooper, fundraising copywriters for great causes. Does your fundraising bring in as much money as it could? You can send donor communications that stir hearts to action. We'd love to help. πŸ’› Start by subscribing to our FREE weekly newsletter.

Read more from Subscribe to the Fundraising Writing Newsletter

This is the 124th Fundraising Writing Newsletter. If you find value here, please tell your fundraising friends. (Your fundraising friends can subscribe here for free.) In this issue: βœ… AI vs Fundraising Writing β€” a head-to-head comparison βœ… Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you Wednesday, February 28, 2024 Hi Reader, My dad is now trying to sell a property, and the promotion he created is kind of hilarious and all kinds of awesome. Here's 1 of 38 slides he created and embedded in a...

4 days agoΒ β€’Β 8 min read

Me: feeling like a fundraising adventurer. This is the 123rd Fundraising Writing Newsletter. If you find value here, please tell your fundraising friends. (Your fundraising friends can subscribe here for free.) In this issue: βœ… "Maybe Italian" β€” anatomy of a fundraising writing "gem" βœ… VIDEO: 'Win It in a Minute': How often is a new case statement necessary? βœ… Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you Wednesday, February 21, 2024 Hi Reader, Remember being a kid and seeing a movie that blows...

11 days agoΒ β€’Β 4 min read

Winjoy's happy face. This is the 121st Fundraising Writing Newsletter. If you find value here, please tell your fundraising friends. (Your fundraising friends can subscribe here for free.) In this issue: βœ… Find places for happy faces βœ… VIDEO: 'Win It in a Minute': Upgrading Your "Soft Donors" βœ… Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you Wednesday, February 7, 2024 Hi Reader, The other day, Brett and I had some plumbing work done. In the process I noticed this one little detail I don't always...

25 days agoΒ β€’Β 4 min read
Share this post