Practical Guide Shows How Anyone Can Write to Raise More Money
Paradoxically, the people who run nonprofits, those who best know its mission and needs, often stumble when appealing to donors in writing. They need stumble no more. They only need to read, absorb, and act on the rich lessons in How to Write Fundraising Materials that Raise More Money.
This newly published book by Tom Ahern, a widely and highly regarded communications expert, from the first page to the last translates fundraising best practices into effective writing that anyone can master.
Creating those materials starts with understanding that readers read messages that interest them. Ahern writes: Writing isnt about writing. Ultimately, its about interesting the reader and sustaining that interest...Its not about you at all. Its about the eyes and minds on the receiving end.”
No matter what you create, be it a direct mail solicitation, the cover story on your donor newsletter, or an email alert can be of high interest to readers, if properly constructed. Its about being donor centric and appealing to human psychology, and to help, Ahern offers a checklist to consider when writing for donors or prospects.
Not assuming anything, Ahern asks the reader to understand the difference between suspects and prospects, and what constitutes a donor. Briefly, suspects are people you think might give a gift, but dont have proof that they are interested in doing so. Prospects are people who have shown some interest in your mission, perhaps by making an initial gift or asking to be put on your mailing list. A one-time donor is still a prospect, he writes, because the renewal rate for first timers is low. Not until they have made two gifts should you consider a person a donor, according to Ahern.
Fundraising materialsindeed, fundraising campaignsstart with a written strategy that gets all the players involved with the effort on the same page, and answers three questions:
Who is your specific, target audience?
What do you want that target audience to do once theyve encountered your communication?
Whats in it for them if they do the action youre proposing?
Its vital, Ahern argues, that the organizations leadership and board buy into the strategy, but, he warns, its equally important to be wary in determining who gets to sign off on the materials to be used, especially fundraising committees.
Committees, he writes, by their nature want to protect the organizations image and therefore end up blandifying” copy by removing the interesting, bold, controversial parts. This he calls a big mistake: You cannot bore people into paying attention. You cannot bore people into becoming supporters. You cannot bore people into acting on your behalf.”
Often, when reading a how-to, if you come away with two or three ideas that you feel are worth pursuing, it has been a valuable read. Its no exaggeration to say that gems are to be found on nearly every one of the 175 pages of this book, which does a superb job of explaining the art, science, and secrets of writing fundraising materials that anyone can use to raise more money.