Asking for money can be awkward. In a traditional commercial purchase, there is always a presumed exchange of consideration, i.e., “You give me $1,000, and I will give you a product or service of equal value.”
But in the philanthropic arena?
The trade-off is not so obvious—the benefits often difficult to quantify. Understanding this reality, many nonprofit fundraisers often equivocate by using language that is intentionally conditional, ambiguous, and/or indeterminate. They also tend to default to what salespeople call weasel words, imprecise modal auxiliaries such as “could,” “might,” “may,” “often,” etc., they feel protect them from making promises they may not be able to keep.
But, as the saying goes, fortune favors the bold. Forget the wishy-washy weasel words, leaders of nonprofit organizations. Fundraisers who want to generate impressive results must use language that is equally impactful.
To this point, last month, the website The NonProfit Times featured an article exploring how precise, persuasive language can significantly improve one’s chances when applying for grants. Titled A Strong Proposal Uses Strong Language, the story quotes author Barbara Floersch, author of You Have a Hammer: Building Grant Proposals for Social Change, noting: “This is no place to equivocate about your organization’s ability to produce impact.”
Advising nonprofits to “write like you mean it,” she advises the following when writing grant proposals:
- Explain what your organization will do. For example, tell the funder that you will engage 150 parents, 128 (85%) of whom will complete the parent education program, will demonstrate increased knowledge of positive parenting, and will report improved relationships with their children. (When your program plan is based on best practices and proposed outcomes are realistic, there is no need to equivocate!)
- When describing authentic community connections, select words to emotionally engage the reader. For instance, should you wish to paint a picture in audiences of minds of a beloved activity center, it helps to offer details that tug on the heartstrings. You could emphasize how it looks bright, welcoming, and warm, signaling to others this is a positive space embraced by the community’s racially and ethnically diverse residents.
- When explaining impact, select strong words projecting proficiency. Here is some robust sample text: conclusive evaluation data document positive outcomes exceeding original projections.
- Avoid weak words such as usually, probably, sometimes, and generally. Unlike the last example, these words scream equivocation. They also communicate uncertainty.
- Overused words and phrases often fail to communicate the intended meaning. Instead of inserting a tired word, cliché, or phrase such as “unique” or “cutting edge,” stop to consider what you want the reader to take away. Then hammer out a concise explanation showing the reader how something is different or original.
- Complex language and jargon can be off-putting and often incomprehensible. Worse, they can leave readers feeling frustrated, even misled. On the other hand, direct, straight-forward language is stronger, easier to read, and increases the likelihood of being understood. Also, because plain language communicates with precision and clarity, it can further build trust, enhaning credibility.
Just as strong, persuasive, specific language is effective when writing grant applications, being bold and assertive is likewise efficacious when reaching out to potential donors in one’s fundraising activities. As it happens, this is one of DonorSearch AI’s many strengths: Our organization uses the power of advanced artificial intelligence to tailor the language of email communications directly to the interests and sensibilities of recipients, speaking in terms they understand—while focusing on the kinds of impacts they wish to make.
DonorSearch Ai is an application that helps non-profit organizations identify potential donors by analyzing donor behavior along a number of axes. By pairing messages with each recipient’s individual sympathies/loyalties, DonorSearch makes acquiring donations far more efficient, effective, and yes, cost-effective.
Specifically, DonorSearch can help your organization:
- Identify donors who have a capacity to give and have an affinity for your cause.
- Expand your prospect list with our philanthropy-focused prospect search database.
- Predict a prospect’s giving capacity with accurate, secure giving intelligence data.
Founded in 2007, DonorSearch has served thousands of charities as well as non-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Our many clients include private schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and healthcare systems, and community service organizations located throughout North America.
To see for yourself how Ai can help you and your organization communicate to your prospects in language that elicits a strong, positive response, please contact our team of experts to arrange your demo of DonorSearch AI today.