Make a compelling case using only six words!
That was the challenge from keynote speaker Lori Jacobwith of Ignited Fundraising at the AFP Central PA/Susquehanna Valley Council of Charitable Gift Planners Capitol Conference.
Our heads were spinning;
we fundraisers, most of us rarely at a loss for words,
were in some cases speechless.
Whether it was too much caffeine or the excitement of having been at the conference I spent two hours ruminating on those words in middle of the night. How could I describe one of my nonprofit clients, boil down and communicate its essence, and hopefully move a donor to give, in six words?
Fortunately Lori shared a moving example:
“John’s home has a steering wheel.”
Did those 6 words stop you in your tracks? Did you say, wait a minute, a steering wheel? Did finally think, oh my, John is homeless! (And did you want to make a gift to fix it?)
This week in one of the classes that I teach for Penn State’s Certificate Program in Fundraising Leadership students are working on a similar task — writing newsletter headlines. This exercise was spurred by my past conversations with, and reading the works of, Tom Ahern.
Tom reminds us that the only part of a newsletter that a donor might read is a headline. Hopefully, that headline might be compelling enough to keep them reading. Here are some sample headlines that from my blog posts that, when compared to others, have garnered attention:
- If you chose six words (or just a few more) to make a case – in a headline, on a billboard, or on the front of your annual appeal envelope — what would those words be?
- To what experts do you turn for advice and counsel regarding making a case?
Before I forget, another great organization and person to follow regarding case statements is Andrew Brommel with Campbell & Company. You can find Andrew’s webinar recordings on YouTube. If you have the ability to hire an external firm you might also check out Snavely Associates.
Here’s hoping you will share because we can all learn from one another.