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How to Turn Your Words Into Money: The Master Fundraiser's Guide to Persuasive Writing Paperback – September 8, 2015
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About the Author
Jeff Brooks, creative director at TrueSense Marketing, has been writing for and about nonprofit fundraising for more than 25 years. His clients have included St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, CARE, The Salvation Army, Ronald McDonald House, Feeding America, the American Cancer Society, and many more. A propagandist for the donor-focused fundraising revolution, his previous book is The Fundraiser's Guide to Irresistible Communications.
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I only wish it had spent more time on the tension of messaging the donor as hero and how to balance that messaging, perhaps in other forms of communication with the donor. We all want to raise money the most effective way possible. But, a problem -> solution, where the solution is always money, over and over and over again, leads to a dysfunctional perception of those being served and the role we all have in serving people. We end up with donors who feel like heroes because they wrote checks, and believe that's how you solve life's problems because that the implied message of our appeals over time. The reality is that they need to love people first and write checks second. How do you deal with that tension in your overarching communication with donors?
Writing a GOOD fundraising letter - one that grabs the donor’s attention, touches her heart, and motivates her to give - now that’s hard work. And it happens a lot less often.
Jeff Brooks (disclosure: a longtime colleague and friend) has been writing the best kind of fundraising for many years. He knows what sets fundraising copywriting apart from every other kind of writing. And fortunately for us, he’s willing to pull back the curtain on the counterintuitive world of fundraising to help you focus your fundraising where it should be focused … not on your organization, not even on your cause … but on your donor.
Jeff takes the guesswork out of writing by explaining how to tell a story effectively, how to build a compelling offer, even what to do when a problem feels too big to solve (“How can my $25 cure cancer?”). Along the way, you’ll learn why fundraisers write in that style that makes English teachers cringe, why humor and symbolism almost never work, and how to defend your work to your director, board, or client.
Jeff is a great writer, but also (and also) a great teacher. Whether you’re new to the discipline or have been in the field a long time, I’ll bet you will learn a lot from this slim book, and gain a new appreciation for the value of your work. I know I did.
If your goal is to write some epic fundraising content, look no further.
Jeff does an expert job of teaching you how to break down any mental barriers you have so that you can seamlessly transition from formal writing to writing that packs a colossal emotional punch. Not only does he explain a bunch of key elements of colloquial writing in terms of word and grammar usage, he also goes beyond that to address issues concerning length, style, use of cliches, readability, and more. He never forgets the importance of putting the reader at the heart of it all, disregarding I in favor of YOU.
And of course he doesn’t forget the significance of great storytelling and the crucial role it plays in fundraising writing. He’s dedicated multiple book chapters to the topic. You’ll come to understand precisely how to structure effective stories that are emotionally jarring and where to include them in your writing. You’ll also gain some insight on the psychology behind great storytelling, too, along with much, much more. Additionally, he debunks a few myths that you may have held as beliefs on what constitutes great fundraising content.
By the time you finish reading this book and taking it all in, you’ll be able to craft compelling material with confidence, and there will be virtually no way you won’t improve as a fundraising writer. Jeff communicates in a clear way that’s very readable and easy to comprehend, as well as friendly. Plus, he brings personal experience and stories to the table, along with humor and candor. If you’re interested in learning how to write better fundraising content, How to Turn Your Words Into Money: The Master Fundraiser's Guide to Persuasive Writing is one book you can’t afford to miss.
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Read it again.
Make your executive director read it.