American journalist Gene Fowler once said, “Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
Is that how you feel when you sit down to write a letter or email to your supporters? If so, knowing these common pitfalls can help you approach copywriting with less dread.
Pitfall 1: Suppressing personality. We live in a world hungry for connections to people and brands. Make sure the letter signer feels like a real person with a genuine interest in the reader and a passion for the mission.
Pitfall 2: Getting too deep into the weeds. Tell the reader enough that he or she can form a mental picture of what you are saying, but don’t try to fill in every single detail. It’s like completing a jigsaw puzzle; we don’t have to put in every to visualize the scene.
Pitfall 3: Forgetting what motivates the reader. It’s not a budget crisis that will move your readers to be donors. Rather, it’s seeing that something that matters to me won’t happen if I don’t give.
Pitfall 4: Viewing a letter or e-Appeal as “routine.” Every communication should make the reader fall in love with your mission all over again. You can engage a reader’s head, but never fail to engage the heart, as well.
Pitfall 5: Failing to visually surprise your reader. Templates are great, but if everything looks too much the same to the reader, there’s a tendency to think, “Oh, I’ve seen this before.” Being more visually appealing can help break through the clutter of the myriad of marketing messages received daily.
Pitfall 6: Confusing the reader. You are too close to the program so it’s easy to slip into “organizational speak.” What’s that? It’s acronyms, assumptions and leaving out important details because “everyone knows that.” It’s also death to fundraising.
Pitfall 7: Forgetting who the reader is. Make it easy to consume your message. Dense blocks of copy, small print and unfamiliar words become roadblocks to reading and responding.
Our communications to donors are important and we want them to read them. Avoiding these pitfalls can help you achieve that – and build more committed donors in the process.