Mazarine Treyz reports:
"Tell people the stuff they all think but nobody ever says. So, what is the big thing that people think but never say about your cause? Maybe they’re thinking, 'I don’t really know what you do' or 'I don’t know why I should care about this' or '[T]his problem is hopeless. Why don’t you just give up?' So say, 'Should we give up?' [T]hat’s honesty...Often your first three paragraphs are just a warm-up to the story. Your reader doesn’t need a warm-up. They need to be thrown into that story...There are some benefits to having the biggest indie bookstore in the US in your town...I’ve read three novels, two by Dick Francis, and one by Lee Child. They are masters of suspense. Everything is urgent, and real. They help you write in short sentences, and write like your character’s life depends on it. If you’re a human services nonprofit, this is especially easy to see how it fits. But even if you’re an animal nonprofit, you can make it urgent and real. If you’re an environmental nonprofit like Columbia Riverkeepers, talk about how people are connected to the river. What happens when a river gets polluted? Who gets sick? And what can we do to help them?...Have you seen a good headline in a newspaper or magazine or on a blog post recently? HOW could you apply that to your appeal header?...[P]ut [numbers and facts] in only when absolutely necessary. People don’t talk about statistics as much as they talk about stories. A good story can travel around the block before you get that first statistic out of your mouth...People speak in short sentences. Don’t write like you’re making a grant proposal...Pretend you’re a gunslinger in an old western. They didn’t waste words. They made their sentences as short as possible. Like a gunshot...What will happen if your reader does not give to your nonprofit right now? Do they truly understand the consequences of not giving to you? Can you make that real to them?...How can you put your reader right in the middle of the action? 'She started running through the forest. She could smell the pine boughs crushed under her feet. A wind blew up and threw her hair in her face. She kept running, her breath coming in ragged gasps. She knew she couldn’t go back. But where could she go?' I just made that up. Might be applicable for a domestic violence nonprofit...Throw the reader in the fire with you right from the beginning...Use the boring down technique. It’s not a gun, it’s a revolver. It’s not a revolver, it’s a Smith and Wesson revolver. It’s a pearl[-]handled S&W revolver[.] It’s a loaded, pearl[-]handled S&W revolver...Here’s a free tool for you to determine if your appeal letter is readable at a 6th grade level or below (that’s where most people are)[.] Horrors! I looked at many of my blog posts here and they are on the 7th and 8th grade reading level! I’ve got some work to do!"
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