If I’m in an empty parking lot with nobody around as far as the eye can see, I will still follow the arrows and not cut through other parking spots to get where I need to go.
I’m a rule follower.
But today I’m going to ask you to break some rules.
Because when you break some of the grammar rules you’ve been following most of your life, something interesting happens. Your writing comes alive, and you start to sound like a real person.
The purpose of direct response fundraising writing is to build a relationship with your donor. What’s the best way to do that? By sounding like a human!
Are you feeling uncomfortable?
I get it.
At first, breaking grammar rules bugged me. Now… I delight in it! Because I’ve seen how much more donors connect with a letter or email that sounds like it’s coming from a real person.
So let me suggest a shift in thinking.
Instead of thinking, “I’m breaking the basic rules of grammar,” shift to “I’m writing with a more personal style that better connects with donors.”
This is the art of direct response fundraising writing.
You see, the most effective writing in direct response fundraising includes imitating how people talk in real life conversations. This means you do things like…
- Start sentences with And or But.
- Vary your paragraph length. Use a short one-liner, then a three-liner, then maybe a two-liner. No long hamburger paragraphs from grade school!
- Sprinkle in em dashes — and ellipses … (I call these … drama dots) for dramatic effect or a break in the rhythm.
- End a sentence with a preposition sometimes (GASP!).
- Use a sentence fragment to make a point (DOUBLE GASP!!!).
Remember, you are not writing a grant application. Grant applications have their (very important) place. But… have you ever willingly read a grant application?
If you are getting pushback internally, please read this post.
You must do better than grant application writing to keep your donors reading.
The more your direct response writing reflects a living, breathing, emotional, messy, interesting human being… the more likely your donors will keep reading and keep engaging with your mission.
And that’s what this is all about, right?
Break free from grammar rules and let me know how it goes! Comment here or find me on Twitter @sarahlundberg.
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