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Fundraising six feet under?

Published 11 months agoΒ β€’Β 4 min read

Busy times call for busy measures. Also: we are now serving up the 86th issue of the Fundraising Writing Newsletter. Please forward it, if you don't mind. (That would be much appreciated). They can ​subscribe here for free.

In this issue:

  • Fundraising six feet under?
  • Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Hi Reader,

I just love When Harry Met Sally. It's the movie I most often rewatch.

One of its countless priceless moments is when Harry explains to Sally:

β€œWhen I buy a new book, I always read the last page first, that way in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends. That, my friend, is a dark side."

I have never tried to follow Harry's book-reading advice. But the other day, Brett and I accidentally did a version of this. We "pulled a Harry Burns" with an old HBO show...


Fundraising six feet under?

Remember Six Feet Under?

From 2001 to 2005, the prestige drama about a family who runs a funeral home while surrounded by death, love, heartbreak, and healing racked up dozens of award nominations and bagged a number of wins.

When Six Feet Under was first airing, our 4 boys were small. Teletubbies and Happy Feet took precedence on our television screens.

So I only caught the first episode of Six Feet Under. And that fact has often nagged at me. I occasionally vaguely wondered if I'd missed out on what could have been one of my favorite series.

But that wondering was long halfhearted. I never bothered to nudge it from idea to action.

Until about a week ago, that is. On a lark, I convinced Brett to watch the series pilot with me.

(Apologies in advance to all you Six Feet Under fans.)

Other than the first 20 minutes, we did not love it.

Our opinion: this show has not aged well.

In fact, we so did not love the pilot while experiencing an uncomfortable "Uh, we don't get it" feeling ... that we proceeded to search for video recaps of each season. We couldn't find even one. We only found 5 really bad season-spanning teaser trailers.

Giving up on that idea, we advanced straight to the series finale. Which we equally did not love.

But the experience was fantastic! And eye opening!

So..

2 takeaways for you:

  1. We recommend you try this approach with a series you keep meaning to watch and probably won't love. You can then say you've watched the show. (🀭 ) You can laugh at how bad it actually is, how everyone else is painfully wrong. It's delightfully liberating. (Except yeah, I know, it's probably just our strange taste.)
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  2. We recommend you modify this idea for your fundraising appeals.
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    By this I mean that it's human nature to skip the middle of things (e.g., episodes 2 – 62 of Six Feet Under) and still think, "Sure, I get the gist."
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    Your donors, as much as they love you, are busy. They likely get the gist. They maybe don't need to watch every episode or read every page.
    ​
    Busy times call for busy measures. Busy appeal readers are rather likely to read the very beginning and the very end of an appeal. The rest of it might be lucky to get a glance.

Perhaps file this under Six Feet Under fundraising. πŸͺ¦

Thus, we offer 3 action steps you might want to consider when you're writing your next appeal:

  1. Strategically place all your most important messaging at the beginning (~the first page) and the end (~the last half page, including the PS).
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  2. Make the middle of your appeal highly skimmable. Emphasis, repetition, and white space are your friends.
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  3. For any messaging you think is not important (but maybe your boss insists on including), bury it Six Feet Under. (I.e., stuff it in the too-often-almost-invisible middle.)

Remember: you, your colleagues, and your precious, lovely superfans will likely read and savor every word...

...while most everyone else pulls a Harry Burns.

So please make sure the first and last pages of your appeal contain the gist of your fundraising message.

Also: Harry is still a good soul, in the end. πŸ˜‡


When you're ready...

Brett and I love stirring donors' hearts to action.

(Is that what you need?)

If you have an active donor list and a budget to grow it, book a free, no-pressure call with me to discuss your needs and how our services might help you reach your goals.


Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you

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

  • Writingly Informative β€” Digging for gems: 3 sentences I love by Ann Handley (writerly analysis of three great sentences to help you up your game, including this gem: "Fed Chair Jerome Powell dropped Mentos into the market's Diet Coke yesterday")
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  • Favorably Reoriented β€” Not disappointing myself by Ava (a reflection on the wisdom of treating yourself right)
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  • Enjoyably Survivable β€” Getting to Day One via On Fire with Jeff Probst: The Official Survivor Podcast (an 18-minute podcast episode about the logistics of preparing for a new season of the tv show Survivor)
    ​
  • Gorgeously Evocative β€” 'Succession' Theme Song Explained By The Composer via Vanity Fair (a 13-minute video in which composer and pianist Nicholas Britell plays portions of pieces he wrote and recorded for HBO's Succession and explains the thinking behind the compositions)
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  • Cleverly Disarming β€” Outhorse Your Email via Visit Iceland (an irresistibly silly trojan horse for a tourism marketing site, in which you can choose a horse to type out emails for you when you are out of office... and presumably visiting Iceland)

Until next time: May you meet your busy donors where they're at ... so your fundraising messages will serve them well.

All our best,

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PS: Hey β€” here's the latest in our weekly video series, Win It in a Minute. (You can subscribe here.)

In this video, Tom answers the question:

"Fundraising is so hard. There’s a notorious churn of new fundraisers who tend to leave their position within 18 months. What’s your take on this? What can be done to reverse this bleak trend?"

video preview

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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.

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