fundraising success: getting the words right

Hoots and I saw this sign recently on the wall of a coffee shop. You’ve seen signs like this. The only thing I could think of when I read it was “it’s a ‘puppy’ not ‘dog’.”

It can be a powerful threat: leave your kid unsupervised and we’ll hop him up on too much caffeine and give him an adorable rambunctious puppy for you to deal with.

But it has to be a “puppy” not a “dog.”

The mental image has to be a jacked-up 5 year-old struggling to hang on to his brand new squirming puppy chanting, “Can I keep him? Can I keep him? Can I keep him? Huh? Please! Huh? Can I keep him? Huh? Please!”

“Dog” doesn’t do it.

Same with fundraising copy.

You gotta work hard to get the words right and make them vivid, specific and clear. It’s worth the effort.

Your donors want to give to provide “a turkey dinner with all the trimmings” or even better “a turkey dinner with stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings.”

Your donors want to provide “sparkling clear water” so that kids won’t have to drink “brown, disease carrying” water. Or even better “so that kids won’t have to drink water that carries cholera and other life-threatening diseases.”

Your donors want specifics.

Not because they demand specifics. But because they write checks based on specifics. The more specific, the more concrete, the more clear . . . the better the response.

Vague is bad.

General is bad.

Clear and specific raises money.

So what do you think? Am I right, that it has to be “puppy” not “dog”? How do you use specifics? I love hearing what you’re up to.


Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

(photo credit: Steve Thomas)
Find Steve on Instragram: oneicity_st

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

1 thought on “fundraising success: getting the words right”

  1. Pingback: oneicity // income solutions for non-profits » 4 questions donors want you to answer

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