profile

Subscribe to the Fundraising Writing Newsletter

"...you, someone who loves them!" (Identity-based fundraising writing.)

Published about 1 month agoΒ β€’Β 4 min read

Welcome, You! This is the 130th Fundraising Writing Newsletter. If you find value here, please tell a colleague. (Your colleague can ​subscribe here for free.)​

In this issue:

βœ… "...you, someone who loves them!" (Identity-based fundraising writing.)

βœ… Mail Bag πŸ“¬

βœ… Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you

​

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Hi Reader,

Some tips are so simple that, when you hear them, you might have the urge to smack your forehead and exclaim, "I should have thought of that!" and "I can totally do that!"

This is one of those tips.


"...you, someone who loves them!" (Identity-based fundraising writing.)

Imagine you're writing a fundraising appeal letter.

You're at the part where you need to include a call-to-action. It's time to provide an offer and make an ask.

You write:

At this moment, a homeless dog like Rosie needs you!

This is good fundraising writing because it's simple, clear, urgent, and donor-centered (with a donor-sized problem the offer and the ask you'd write next would highlight).

Cue that simple tip.

Now, you can improve your good writing with an identity-based modifier:

At this moment, a homeless dog like Rosie needs you, someone who loves them!

By "identity-based modifier" I mean words that modify and elaborate on your use of the word YOU in the first statement ... and that connect to the donor's identity.

In the example above, you're connecting the need of the beneficiary (a homeless dog like Rosie) to the donor's identity (a person who loves animals).

Simple.

Powerful.

The research conducted by Drs. Jen Shang and Adrian Sargeant of the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy suggests that adding identity-based language throughout your fundraising writing will improve your donors' well-being, which in turn will improve your bottom-line.

That's because you β€” and I and everyone else β€” act from a place of identity. If you see yourself as someone who loves animals ... and the language in a fundraising appeal letter reflects that ... you are more likely to give.

Identity-based fundraising language reminds us of our ideals and inspires us to live up to them.

This is true for all kinds of identity-based traits.

For example:

  • strong
  • brave
  • resilient
  • understanding
  • hard-working
  • honest
  • kind
  • caring
  • compassionate
  • open-minded
  • mom
  • daughter
  • neighbor
  • family
  • Illinoisan

All of the above are ways in which a person might identify. It's usually an unconscious or subconscious thing. You don't go around bragging you're a kind, hard-working, Illinois mom ... but you are ... and that's important to you.

So, we recommend you think carefully about this simple concept. Internalize it. Then put together a list of traits your average donor likely identifies with, and use those traits in identity-based language in your fundraising copywriting.

These are the kinds of words your donors can identify with.

Again, for example:

Because of you β€” a person who cares about hard-working families in crisis β€” your neighbors are beating the odds and escaping the gravitational pull of poverty.

Here's hoping this simple tip sounds to you like a no-brainer.

If you're slapping your forehead, I hope you're also feeling those marbles pleasantly clacking into place in your fundraising writing brain. For your donors' sake. πŸ₯°


Mail Bag πŸ“¬

… in response to last week’s newsletter about choosing the right photos for your appeals:

Maybe you can relate to Shira…

Shira wrote:

We're a research institute housing academic scientists who do practical research, all related to aging. They look into questions like why seniors fall down, how to optimize nutrition in nursing homes, and many other angles of the aging experience.
​
The research that happens here is cool to look at in photos, but it is not the need itself -- the need is in the lives of seniors, who we have almost no direct interaction with outside of the research lab.
​
I've been here a short time and only done one appeal so far, and for that I used stock photography, and what I had on hand (already paid for) was photos of happy seniors.
​
Are stock photos of unhappy seniors my best route? Do photos from the research lab have any value for appeals?

My answer:

Great question, Shira!
​
First, no, I wouldn't recommend photos of unhappy seniors. Consider neutral empowerment images (a phrase I learned from my copywriter friend Sarah Masterson). These images embody a quiet confidence.
​
Take a look at these photos I found on Shutterstock and Canva to help represent neutral empowerment (based on the information you gave me).
​
Second, yes, photos from the lab can have a wonderful place in your appeals, preferably inside the appeal (leaving page 1 for one of a senior). Showing the science helps the donor understand what you do.
​
The good thing is that you can take
real photos of your scientists doing their work in the research lab. You may want to schedule a photo shoot as soon as possible with the scientists.
​
Good luck!

Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you

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

  • Fundraisingly Informative β€” The Case of the Disappearing Donors by Roger Craver (a blog post about the impending decline of Silent Generation and Baby Boomer donors, the missed opportunities in honoring their legacies, and the crucial need to engage donors' families to ensure the continuity of our donor communities for generations to come)
    ​
  • Unusually Fresh β€” Innovating for Impact: Seth Godin's Revolutionary Strategies for Nonprofit Growth... via We Are For Good Podcast (a 41-minute podcast episode featuring Seth Godin, his perspective on the challenges of fundraising, and GOODBIDS, his bold new idea on how to address one of our sector's glaring problems)
    ​
  • Cleverly Promotional β€” Ryan Gosling Monologue - SNL (a brilliant 7-minute Saturday Night Live monologue from Ryan Gosling's April 13th hosting gig, in which he and Emily Blunt leverage the popularity of Barbie and Oppenheimer, their two separate 2023 blockbuster films, to promote their upcoming movie in which they star opposite each other, The Fall Guy)​

Until next time: May you make a habit of identifying with your org, your beneficiaries, and your donors β€” so as to better connect them all!

Grateful,

PS: When you are ready, we're happy to chat with you about how we might be able to help you with your donor communications β€” e.g., planning, writing, advising, reviewing, designing, training. Reply to this email or book a no-pressure call with me here.

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

Thank you for stopping by! This is the 133rd Fundraising Writing Newsletter. If you find value here, please tell a fundraising friend. (Your fundraising friend can subscribe here for free.) In this issue: βœ… Your donors brake for fundraising bargains and curiosities βœ… Tomorrow: Gifts in wills training. Be there? βœ… Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you Wednesday, May 15, 2024 Hi Reader, Does this ever happen to you? You're super busy, absolutely not to be interrupted β€” and then you pull...

5 days agoΒ β€’Β 3 min read

Well, hello there, friend! (And a special welcome to the new subscribers from Martha's Vineyard Nonprofit Collaborative whom we had the pleasure of training earlier this week!) This is the 131st Fundraising Writing Newsletter. If you find value here, please tell a fundraising friend. (Your fundraising friend can subscribe here for free.) In this issue: βœ… πŸ“¬ Direct Mail + digital (like finding a puppy in your letterbox) βœ… Are you ready for the Great Wealth Transfer? Do you want more bequests?...

19 days agoΒ β€’Β 4 min read

Welcome, You! This is the 129th Fundraising Writing Newsletter. If you find value here, please tell a colleague. (Your colleague can subscribe here for free.) In this issue: βœ… Photos not required. But if you do... βœ… 3 Tips for choosing the right photo for your appeal βœ… Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you Thursday, April 11, 2024 Hi Reader, If you read my fundraising photo tips newsletter from last week, this right here is where I pull a Columbo and say, "Just one more thing." (If you...

about 1 month agoΒ β€’Β 4 min read
Share this post