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Member, Association of Fundraising Professionals
Member, American Society of Association Executives
Resources – Newsletter Archive

June, 2007

Welcome to "Karen's Fundraising Tips." June's newsletter
(which you can read in 3-5 minutes . . . tops) shows how to avoid sounding like a Star Trek android in your fundraising letters. And I've included a hot tip on how your board of directors can raise money without asking for a cent.

     Oh, almost forgot . . . the Resources section of my website is now available. In a previous issue I promised to let you know when it was ready for you to use.

     With regard to my newsletter in general - on the second Tuesday of each month I share tips, news items, and resources all tailored for the nonprofit world and folks directly responsible for raising funds. My goal is to make your job a little easier and to help you increase your donor contributions.

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     What's your biggest challenge? What would you like to see in my newsletter? How can I help you?

     Send me a short note with one or two of your biggest challenges. I'll share suggestions on making them less of a challenge in a future issue. Just send an email to and I'll take it from there.

Do You Sound Like an Android? [357 words]

     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)


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Hot Tip of the Month - Members of your Board can help with fundraising without asking for money
[226 words]

     Anyone on your Board of Directors comfortable in a public forum? Anyone who is not afraid of public speaking? If you answered yes, youíre in luck.

     Encourage them to seek out opportunities to speak in public. Have them sign up with speakerís bureaus and be available to groups who need a speaker for an event.

     By simply speaking on general topics such as leadership (seems like a natural fit for a Director), management, motivating employees, etc. they can get priceless exposure for your nonprofit mission.

     As they speak they weave in examples and short stories from your nonprofit organization to illustrate their point. This is a subtle and powerful way to promote your organization, increase awareness, and draw in more donors without ever coming out and asking for a donation.

     When they speak in an engaging and entertaining fashion, theyíll have people coming to them to find out more about your organization.

     Perhaps print out a copy of this newsletter and drop it off. Add a note about finding something that might be of interest to them. And here are a few more suggestions . . .

     If your directors are new to speaking, recommend:

     If your directors are experienced with speaking, recommend:

     And they may also be interested in attending the 2007 Boardsource Leadership Forum. It will be in San Francisco on October 12-13, 2007. Phone 866-867-6319


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Second Quick Hot Tip of the Month

     I received an email last week from regarding a Fair for Graduate Degrees for the Public Good on June 18th, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., in Washington D.C.

     The target audience is nonprofit and public service professionals who want to learn more about graduate education options and how they can help to advance their career.

     Over 60 schools will be represented. It's free to register and visit for more information.


Feel free to forward my newsletter to a colleague. Plus, here's how they can sign-up to receive it directly:

     1. Just click on this link, In the email message to me, please include the first name and email address of your colleague. I'll take care of signing them up.

Or ...

     2. You can sign them up directly on my website by following this link:

"Karen's Fundraising Tips"

Thanks for joining me and until next time . . . write in a light, conversational style. Donít sound like an android.

All the best,

Karen Zapp, Fundraising & Sales Copywriter
Perceptive Karen

P.S.  Have a project coming up soon? Iíd love to explore the possibilities with you. Call or send me an email today. I look forward to helping your mission prosper!


Return to Karen Zapp’s Newsletter Archive page


Call anytime and we’ll chat about your needs: 800-794-1609
I look forward to helping you prosper.

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