Puzzled as to why your donors, members and advocates aren’t responding in droves? Wondering why those great letters, emails, and web stories seem to fall on deaf ears? You might be boring them.
Writing great copy is hard. It’s easy to make mistakes.
What are those nonprofit copywriting mistakes that bore your readers?
I’ve often written about them. And in their own way Copyblogger also wrote about them although their focus wasn’t on nonprofits.
To illustrate what you might be doing wrong, here are 11 common mistakes to avoid if you want to engage more supporters, boost response and raise more revenue.
1 – Your copy covers too many subjects. You don’t stick to one topic and therefore you “Break the Rule of One.” Stay focused!
2 – You love long run-on sentences that have clause after phrase and are connected by semi-colons, commas, and more punctuation so that the reader can’t possibly grasp the meaning of your sentence because it’s so long they forgot what they read two minutes ago; and it’s also full of qualifying information on why what you’re saying is so important. Get the point?
3 – You pontificate and philosophize on the vital role your philanthropic institution plays in the emancipation of mankind from impecuniousness, pathosis, or some other type of serious botheration. You harangue readers into a numbing oblivion. Translation = You use too many big words. Too much jargon.
4 – You’re obsessed with grammar and formal writing style. You insist on writing the way you learned in high school. Yawn.
5 – Cold as a fish. Copy isn’t warm and personable. Instead use emotion, passion, and opinions. Make it sound like a conversation.
6 – Same old … same old. No variety. Nothing unexpected or unusual. Wake up your readers. For example: Shakespeare was known to deliberately misuse words. He used nouns as verbs. And adjectives as verbs. This startles readers. They read more closely.
7 – Long-winded copy. What you need to do is edit without mercy. Many adverbs and adjectives don’t add meaning. Or they don’t convey an emotion so get rid of them. Do you really need all those words in that sentence? Often not. Cut, cut, cut.
8 – You sound like a bad salesman who gives all the good sales people a bad name. It’s not about YOU. It is about your donors. Brag about them and what they do instead of how great you are. Write about what is of interest to your donors and members.
9 – Fail to use copywriting techniques. For example: Are you too creative? Too original? Or . . . Do you really understand what triggers readers to respond? Do you know the elements of a solid fundraising appeal? Can you write compelling copy? Can you tell a captivating story? Are you the best qualified copywriter for that campaign?
10 – You thrive on producing unreadable text such as long blocks of text. Not enough white space. Hard to read fonts (color, size, too fancy). Not written for skimmers.
11 – You edit for the wrong reasons. Instead, edit so you’re NOT guilty of mistakes one through ten. Write your copy first. Just let it flow. Edit second. And then edit for the sake of your readers and not your own ego. I say again, review mistakes one through ten for more tips on how to edit. Edit your copy a second time. Think you’re done? Keep editing . . . and editing.
Above all else have passion. Have energy. Be excited. Share emotion.
If you feel that way when you write your nonprofit copy it will come through. Your donors, members and advocates will also be more passionate and generous in their support of your mission. It also goes a long way to over shadow a copywriting mistake or two that may slip through. And you won’t bore your readers.
What mistakes can you add to the list? I have a few more in the related posts below.