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How's your "fundraising fire pit"?

Published 29 days agoΒ β€’Β 4 min read

This is the 126th 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… How's your "fundraising fire pit"?

βœ… Thursday: Case for support webinar with Tom Ahern, Harvey McKinnon, and Julie Cooper (once in 2024)

βœ… Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you

​

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Hi Reader,

So β€” Brett and I had this idea. It's simple:

  1. Dig a big hole in our yard.
  2. Fill it with sand.
  3. Put a fire pit in the middle.
  4. Sit around the fire pit, with our toes in the sand.

How it's going...

The thing about a hole in the ground is that so much depends on what you fill it with.

We almost made the mistake of ordering too much gravel, for drainage, under the sand.

Too much gravel, not enough sand ... could've been bad for our toes.

​Zac Brown would not approve.

Fundraising appeals are like this. If you mess up the ratio of "gravel" (what motivates your team) to "sand" (what motivates donors), no one's going to want to spend much time round your "fundraising fire pit" (your appeal letter).

So I wonder,


How's your "fundraising fire pit"?

If you're not sure, you're not alone.

Some of our clients struggle with board members and others on their team who get involved with the copy review and pressure them to change things in questionable ways.

These folks are usually well-meaning but not necessarily well-informed on fundraising writing best practices.

Here's a recent example from one of our clients, Tracy, who emailed Brett with the following question:

Someone read my appeal who is familiar ... and said, "Why did you leave out so many of the cool things that you do?"
​
My sense is one story is fine. But that might be just because I don’t want to rewrite it. what is your and Julie’s professional opinion?

Brett replied:

Your instincts are correct. Focusing on one story of one person at one moment in time typically does far better than an approach whereby you highlight all your programs.
​
Appeals do well when they’re focused on an urgent, donor-sized problem. The donor feels something and then takes action by donating. The flip side of this is trying to β€œeducate” donors to convince them logically that they should donate. That sounds reasonable but it’s not how most humans actually make decisions.
​
Parting with your money to someone sight unseen is a heavy thing. It requires emotional β€œlifting.” Speaking to the heart works much better than speaking to the brain does when persuading donors to donate. Focusing on β€œthe power of one” is very human. One person helping one other person. Trying to cover all your programs when they don’t fit into the story pulls donors out of the story.
​
Donors are busy. They skim. They get the gist. They act. You don’t want to pull them out of the story. You want to remain focused, emotional, and repetitive with a clear problem and a clear solution (your offer).

Tracy is smart. She's guarding against the rough gravel of unnecessary-additions ruining the smooth sand of a focused appeal. Her "fundraising fire pit" is all good.

Please trust your expertise when someone pushes for messaging that's not best for your donors!


Thursday: Case for support webinar with Tom Ahern, Harvey McKinnon, and Julie Cooper (once in 2024)

Your case for support, done properly, is your donor communications backbone. It shapes everything you write for your organization.

Your case for support, done properly, should help you to:

  • be persuasive across all formats (email, direct mail, website, social media...)
  • raise more money in your appeals
  • raise more money in your newsletters
  • increase your annual giving
  • increase your monthly giving
  • increase your major donor giving
  • increase your legacy giving (more gifts in wills)
  • increase your donor retention
  • increase your donor lifetime value (LTV)
  • increase your donor engagement
  • increase your donor satisfaction
  • power more programs
  • have more impact

Please don't underestimate the need for a good case for support. Otherwise, your organization will be like a body without a backbone. Inert. Stuck.

As you may know, I recommend Tom Ahern's super webbies. That's why I've been producing and moderating them since 2022.

Tom does four super-webbies per year β€” on bequests, newsletters, appeals, and cases. Each one happens only once per year. The main training lasts 90 minutes. The unlimited All-You-Can-Eat Q&A afterwards runs as long as the questions keep coming. The "record" currently stands at over 4 hours, just for the questioning and answering. The Q&A alone is worth your price of admission.

A Tom Ahern webby β€” and particularly this one on cases for support; central to all your communications β€” really can make all the difference for you.

Tomorrow, Thursday, March 21st at 1:00 pm Eastern Time, Tom will be joined by special guest expert Harvey McKinnon (author of the books Hidden Gold, The 11 Questions Every Donor Asks and the Answers All Donors Crave, and How to Create Lifelong Donors Through Monthly Giving).

This is a special opportunity for you to get all your questions answered by legendary fundraising writing experts. Just skim the testimonials (click the link and scroll down) to get a taste of what's in store for you if you register for this webinar whose official title is "How to Write a Fabulous Case for Support".

The training and the full Q&A session will be recorded and available for you to download, watch later, watch on repeat, and share with your team.

I'll be there with bells on!

I hope you'll join me!


Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you

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


Until next time: May your toes enjoy more sand than gravel, and your donors always feel welcome at your "fundraising fire pit"!

Grateful,

​

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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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