Do You Sound Like an Android?
Writing in a pure grammatically correct style usually results in stiff, cold copy. And such a style stifles response in your fundraising letters.
Any Star Trek Next Generation fans out there? Remember Commander Data, the android? He always spoke in precisely correct English and in a formal style. For example, he never used contractions. Definitely NOT how human beings naturally speak.
Or perhaps you remember the opening phrase at the start of each Star Trek episode: “To boldly go where no man has gone before.”
Thatís grammatically incorrect because itís a split infinitive. It should be stated, “To go boldly where no man has gone before.” But who talks like that? It just doesnít “sound” right.
And you donít want your writing to sound like Commander Data, our friendly android. His style is brilliantly correct but uninspiring.
Hereís another example: Thatís something I simply wonít put up with.
Again, grammatically incorrect because we ended the sentence with a preposition. But would you prefer this version? “That is something up with which I shall not put.”
I doubt it. So whatís my point? WRITE LIKE YOU TALK.
Write in a conversational style that is light and breezy, especially for acquisition letters. Picture yourself sitting in a comfortable easy chair. Youíre surrounded by eager children sitting in a circle on the floor around you. And youíre reading them a story.
Write your acquisition letter, lapsed donor letter, newsletter, or house file letter with that image in mind. And remember, you wonít keep their attention if youíre bragging about yourself or doing it in a formal style. And your donors wonít stay with you either Ė regardless of their education level.
Focus on your donor and keep it light, friendly, conversational. This is critical in the business of nonprofit fundraising.
Another suggestion is to read aloud what you have written. How does it “sound” to you? Is that how you naturally talk? I also suggest you have a friend or family member listen as you read it aloud. Whatís their impression?
Do all this and you will have greater success with your communications. You will inspire greater donations and advocacy participation.
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Just for fun - a quote for you
"It is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it." (Albert Einstein)