If you can’t see it, neither can they!

How do you feel about “making an impact’?  Are you motivated to “sustain” the “continuum of care”?

How about helping people “realize their potential”?  Does “sharing a commitment” excite you to participate?

I picture the first fundraising professionals sitting around the table and thinking up these intellectual constructs years ago when looking for umbrella words to convey the seriousness and heft of their messages, while trying to avoid sounding like the used car salesman in a TV ad.  The practice was conceived and many of us are still following it.

But today’s readers expect something more visceral, something that will compel them to action and involvement.  If they can’t picture what you’re offering, chances are they’ve moved on to someone else’s appeal.

Some of these words overused in fundraising are: engage, empower, facilitate, outreach, outcomes, capacity, leverage, etc.  They may be effective in grant proposals, but don’t inflict them on donors you hope to inspire.

Consider the difference in these sentences from two different appeals:

“We hope you’ll join us in supporting the programs and services we provide to help young people realize their potential…..”

“Your gift will give Anna and others like her a place to go, meet friends, laugh and learn, and maybe go to college someday.”

Accompanied by lively photos and Anna’s story perhaps, the second appeal provides a picture of what the gift can cause to happen.  Much more likely to hit the donor’s sweet spot and spur him to action.  Not to mention creating an association in his mind of what your organization’s work looks like, instead of the picture of bureaucrats sitting around a table crafting phrases that sound important and say little.

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