If you write fundraising copy, you're probably used to people who review what you've written hating it. Goes with the territory.
But when they give their reasons for hating the copy, a funny thing often happens: They are absolutely right in their assessment of its qualities -- but completely wrong that those qualities are a bad thing.
Here are some common complaints, along with some reasons those complaints name a good quality for fundraising copy:
- It's simplistic. Yes! Simplifying complex ideas is a sign of a professional at work. If your copy is complex, it's not very good.
- It's repetitive. Yes! You can't count on people starting on the beginning and reading every word on through to the end. You have to structure your copy so that a skimmer or someone who starts and ends somewhere in the middle gets the message.
- It's emotional. Yes! If it isn't emotional, it won't work. An entirely rational argument for giving will never carry the day.
- It's dramatic. Yes! To break through the clutter and noise of people's lives, you need drama.
- It makes me uncomfortable. Yes! Good fundraising causes discomfort, imbalance. It needs to make donors uncomfortable, so they'll act to make things right.
(This post first appeared on March 29, 2011.)