The Click-it is jam-packed with meaty articles this week – lots of stuff you can really use from some of my favorite writers/fundraising and marketing communications experts. Plus, of course, some fun stuff. And at the end you’ll find some great opportunities to get amazingly high-quality training, and it won’t cost you a dime! Continue Reading
Stop Making Me — and Your Readers — Work
If reading your appeal seems like hard work to me, than why should I bother? I work all day! If reading your appeal seems like a struggle for comprehension, then what’s the point? I struggle to understand stuff all day.
My brain needs a rest.
Even more, my brain would enjoy a treat. Something that lights up my pleasure centers and makes me feel good.
Does your appeal do that for your would-be donors? Or does it require them to put in great effort to get through it?
Reading may be a breeze for you. But it’s not for everybody. Lots and lots of folks suffer from a range of “reading processing disorders” that make it difficult for them to plow through a bunch of dense text.Continue Reading
Who writes your annual appeal letter? If it’s your executive director or your board chair there’s a very good chance it’s filled with jargon. This (pardon my non-jargon language) sucks.
Jargon is the opposite of constituent-centered writing.
It’s not your writer’s fault. Most of us use jargon all the time without being aware we’re doing so. It’s the language we speak when we work together in groups. It’s a sort of short-hand. Acronyms. Labels. Terms of art. It pops up all over the place. But, again, when it comes to using it in your fundraising appeals it’s bad news. Yet it’s exceedingly difficult to avoid. Why?Continue Reading
I know you’re strapped for time. But that’s no excuse for slapping your communications together with the sole purpose of “getting them out there.” Why bother? Checking this task off your list (and maybe reporting to your boss and/or board that you did so) may make you feel a bit better. But it won’t help your readers (and potential supporters) feel good.
If you want to get gifts you must give them. Consider your communications a gift to your supporters. Don’t give something generic. Give something your recipient will appreciate. Ask yourself…Continue Reading
I randomly checked out some nonprofit mission statements yesterday. I was going to check a few more, but… YAWN… I fell asleep.
I’m not kidding.
I don’t want to embarrass anyone, butContinue Reading
Philanthropy; Not Fundraising
People. Purpose. Passion. Plan. Four “P”s in a row. I know… you’re thinking, cute. Yawn. But wait. Before your eyes glaze over, stop a moment and think about these 4 “P”s.
They’re central to your success in inspiring philanthropy. Because even though I’ve written, and truly believe, that there are fundamental ways fundraising has changed significantly over the past five years, there are also things that haven’t changed at all. You simply must translate these fundamentals to the digital world:
- People love a good story.
- One with a purpose.
- One told with passion.
- One that has an order or plan.
It’s human nature to love to listen to – and tell – a story. So let’s figure out how to make that happen for your organization – and for your donors.Continue Reading
R.C.A.? Yup. When building a blog, you want to be Relatable, Conversational and Actionable. In Part I of this series I encouraged you to think like an RCA Victrola. You want your content to get people singing your song. And, heck, you can’t sing unless you know the words. So, today let’s put the “C” in R.C.A. Can we talk?
Your blog needs an engagement value proposition that gets people talking! What’s your blog really, after all? It’s online word-of-mouth water cooler talk. It’s got to be interesting… intriguing… inspiring… educational… funny… something your reader perceives as worth reading, commenting on and sharing. To make this happen, you must understand one fundamental truth about blogging.
It’s a conversation; not a term paper. That’s worth saying twice. Out loud. I’m S.E.R.I.O.U.S. Unless your goal is to give folks a head-ache, put them to sleep, or assure they never darken your doorstep again, please take this to heart.
And speak to the heart; not the head. Don’t try too hard. Above all, don’t try to sound smart. It almost always comes off as phony. Don’t use a bunch of data. Don’t be all stiff and formal. Use contractions, prepositional phrases, ‘ifs’, ‘ands’ and ‘buts’ at the beginning of sentences. Cut out excess adjectives. Forget what your 7th-grade English teacher taught you. Take some advice from The Winnie the Pooh Guide to Blogging. Though he described himself as a “bear of little brain,” he knew complicated language and complex terms are confusing. You don’t have time to clarify your terms for folks. Once you lose them, they’re gone. So get rid of redundant and pretentious words. Get rid of jargon. And don’t be boring.
Conversation flows easily from the tongue. Read your blog post out loud. If you find yourself getting tripped up, rewrite.
Know who you’re talking to. Honest-to-goodness! Can you really have a conversation if you’re just blathering mindlessly into the ether? It’s easier to write for someone you know than a faceless mass. For this reason, I suggest creating marketing personas. As marketing guru Heidi Cohen tells us: Marketing personas are imaginary versions of your prospects, customers and the public that contain in-depth, lifelike character traits, including fun names, to help develop content and marketing. Here are some great resources to help you develop personas for your constituents (you may have several different personas for different market segments):
The Marketer’s Guide to Creating Buyer Personas [Free downloadable template from Hubspot]
And remember that your donor (or potential donor) is a person with a life. In Stop talking to donors like donors Erica Mills of Claxon Marketing reminds us that most folks wear a bunch of hats. Seldom do they self-identify primarily as “donor” They’re moms, dads, friends, daughters, brothers, aunts and uncles. They’re nurses, project managers, students, teachers, lawyers and chefs. They’re runners, yogis, musicians, sports fans and knitters. They’re busy! So try to imagine which hat they may be wearing when they open your blog post.
“Your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one persona real person you know, or an imagined person, and write to that one.” —John Steinbeck
Now that you know who you’re talking to, talk! Let’s say your ‘persona’ is Joe.
Imagine you’re writing to Joe.
Imagine Joe says “I need your help. Can you answer a question for me?”
Remember, you need to think in dialogue form. In Social Media Is Not Your Saving Grace Brian Solis tells us that “if social media is about conversations, you can bet that much of it is based on people asking questions.” People want answers. They seek direction. And they’d much rather get their information from someone they trust (you!) than simply through a blind internet search.
Imagine Joe says “I don’t get it. Give me an example.”
People really appreciate being able to visualize what you’re telling them. Storytelling predates writing, and is the oldest form of communication there is. We’re wired to understand the world through stories. You have to give your information a context so your audience will remember it better. (Check out Made to Stick by the Heath Brothers).
Give Joe a paragraph that tells a story demonstrating your point.
Imagine Joes says “Aha! Got it. But what does that mean for me? What can I do?”
Write a paragraph that describes actions Joe can take.
Your conversation should lead, ultimately, to action. That’s the whole point. And that’s what we’ll discuss in Part III. But for now, let me just remind you that one action you’re going to want to ask folks to take is to comment on your post. So be prepared to respond to blog comments to keep the conversation going. I recently asked someone I know if anyone comments on their blog posts. They answered me with “I have no idea.” You can bet that not a lot of relationships are being cemented by that blog!
You’ve got to engage. Otherwise, it’s a lot of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.
Who are you writing for? Do you use personas? Does something else work for you?
Flickr photo byMark Faviell
C.P.A.? Yup. In my last two posts I introduced you to the ‘accountant’ theory of an effective blog content strategy. C for constituent-centered. P for plan. A for accessible. You can review the ‘C’ and ‘P’ posts here and here. Today we’re going to talk about the ‘A.’
No one is going to read your blog unless you make it accessible. As in “easy to approach, reach, enter, speak with, or use.” So, let’s start at the beginning. Getting found and getting opened.Continue Reading