Donor-centred language

Published on November 16, 2018 by

Is your fundraising driven by corporate, academic, program or journalism communications?

Is your fundraising driven by corporate, academic, program or journalism communications?

Ask yourself this. What type of communications is really driving your fundraising? Because if you’re serious about raising funds – as opposed to raising awareness or educating people – then you need to be incorporating tried and tested direct response techniques into your appeals. ...

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Published on July 18, 2016 by

Stupid fundraising copy changes that will cost you donations

Stupid fundraising copy changes that will cost you donations

I can’t tell you the number of times a new client feels uncomfortable with (or hates) my copy for a fundraising appeal… which then goes on to raise more money than they ever have before. ...

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Published on March 16, 2016 by

June’s Jargon Watch

June’s Jargon Watch

As a copywriter, I hate jargon!

Yet jargon crops up in fundraising appeals, direct mail, donor newsletters, websites… and just about anything else written for donors!

So I’ve decided to start a regular spot on my blog called June’s Jargon Watch. The aim will be to highlight these atrocities of the English language. And also suggest how they could be rewritten so the donor – and the average person – can actually understand them. ...

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Published on February 23, 2016 by

How your simplest offer pulls record donations

How your simplest offer pulls record donations


If your appeal results aren’t so hot, one of the first things to look at is your offer.

Charity J, one of my clients, had the best Christmas appeal for over 5 years – up on the previous year by 25%.

And I put it down to one thing (and the client agrees).

A simple offer.

What was most surprising about it was that I didn’t have to suggest it. I didn’t have to get the fundraising staff to wrangle with programs and field staff over whether the offer was “representative” of their work.

And what was this offer?


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Published on October 21, 2014 by

51 fundraising words and phrases that should DIE, DIE, DIE!

In my last post, I had a rant about jargon in charity communications.

This was after an evening of reading appalling non-profit comms copy. And I promised a list of every single weak or jargonish word or phrase I found. Here it is below.

Arranged alphabetically, these are taken from the charity newsletters and direct mail of 11 different organisations.

May I implore you to cast these out forever more from your copy. Your donors will enjoy reading your mail more. Truly.

  1. Access (education, training, clean water)
  2. Accessible
  3. Address
  4. Awareness raising
  5. Brighter future
  6. Capacity
  7. Capacity building
  8. Change attitudes
  9. ...

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Published on October 14, 2014 by

Are you guilty of fundraising copy from hell?

I settled down with a big pile of direct mail one evening last week. I’d gotten a little behind in reading it all.

So I sat on my comfy couch. I opened the first envelope. Newsletter. Oh goody. This was a new charity I’d donated to so I wanted to know what they’d been doing.

Until I scanned the first article which had these phrases (meaningless jargon bolded):

“long-term, integrated community development projects”

access to life-changing programs to empower people”

Ah no, I’d just entered copywriter’s hell.

So I opened another envelope. Newsletter no. 2.

The ...

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Published on September 9, 2014 by

Test yourself: What’s an envelope teaser’s main purpose?

Choose one only.

A. To let people know what’s inside

B. To create a positive expectation for what’s inside

C. To reinforce your brand

D. To reinforce your campaign message

E. To get the envelope opened

So what did you pick?

Did you go with A, C or D? Then I’m guessing you’re a CEO or a communicator rather than a fundraiser. (By the way, you can be a great communicator and a bad fundraiser. But generally speaking, you can’t be a great fundraiser and a bad communicator.)

If you ...

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