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Three Key Steps to Boost Charitable Giving to Your Organization by 46x!

How forging an honest and vulnerable relationship with readers will help your organization smash through the glass ceiling of fundraising. 

Let’s talk about honesty and vulnerability, and how those can help you increase your donations.

I’ve never felt more vulnerable than this: The bright lights are harsh. I peek around at the room full of people, watching me intently. Waiting. 

Someone turns the lights up even more. The voices around me are loud, demanding. Again! Move just a little bit, no not like that, OK that’s fine. 

My focus shifts to my husband, next to me, holding my hand. I love him so much, yet at this very moment I want to rip his head off because he’s the one who made me endure this. 

I’m overcome with every emotion I’m even capable of feeling…

Not sure about what’s coming next…

And after one more guttural scream, the rest of the room erupts as I hear three precious words… 

It’s a boy!

How does having a baby relate to copywriting? 

Because there’s nothing stronger than the bond between parent and child, and that connection felt between parent and child inspires care.

It’s biology. 

So if job number one of a good copywriter is to inspire the reader to take action, how do you do that? 

First things first, you practice caring in real life.

In my late teens and early twenties, I spent five summers working as a restaurant server. The more attentive I was to my guests’ needs, the more money I made. 

Two people can perform a task equally well, but who would you rather return to: 

  1. The person who took your order and brought your food, or 
  2. The person who recognized you from the last time you were in, called you by name, and remembered to put an extra lemon in your iced tea?

Make your reader feel special, and then show them how they can help solve a problem.  

When I hung up my restaurant apron and headed into the classroom, I invited hundreds, if not thousands of students to learn along with me.

During my teaching years, I found the most important thing I could do was love my students. 

To simply be there for them.

And the same is true in copywriting:

  • Does your reader know that you (or your organization) care about them?
  • Do you incorporate their story into your narrative?
  • Can they picture themselves in your appeal?

After nine years of teaching, I left the classroom for the advancement office, working as the in-house copywriter at an amazing independent school. 

I lived and breathed this place. My colleagues became like family, fellow parents made up my social network, and my kids’ friends could’ve been my own. 

So, every word I wrote for the school came from my heart.

I know that my passion came through on the appeals, even when it wasn’t my name at the bottom of the letter—I had heard this from several people who didn’t even know I was a copywriter at the time. 

Importantly, the benefits of this practice came through in the metrics.

Case in point, my colleague and I raised about $2,000 during my first Giving Tuesday appeal in 2018. I was inexperienced, and admittedly the appeal itself was mediocre, at best. 

The following year, with a little bit of effort and passionate messaging, we upped our Giving Tuesday donations to $92,000, fully 46x higher than the year before. 

That appeal had it all—a matching gift challenge, a progress thermometer, and heartfelt, honest words from some of our most beloved members of the community. 

Naturally, emotion comes through our writing no matter how professional we are. And the reader can tell if the passion is lacking. 

How can you inspire more charitable giving to your organization?

It’s simple, really.

Get to know the people and then honestly share stories. 

Here are three key steps: 

  1. Learn about the program participants: Where were they before your organization provided services? What do they still need help with? What scares them? How can donors help?
  2. Seek and build relationships with staff and volunteers within the organization. What motivates them? Why are they there?
  3. Write like you’re having a cup of coffee with your reader. Be personal and conversational. 

Back to babies for a moment…

As a new parent, I was terrified when my first son was born. And also when my second came out, and again with the arrival of my third baby boy. 

During my last pregnancy, I’ll never forget the nurse yelling, “It’s a boy!” in the delivery room…

The room was filled with staff, but my partner and I felt alone in that room. I cried and cried. It was joy and pain and relief and humor — three boys? Are you joking?

Make your donors laugh and cry and feel the emotions so sincerely that they simply must make a charitable gift. 

And remember, connection inspires care, and care inspires action. Now go get to it!