About this Benchmark Study & Narrative Fundraising Seminar
How do fund raisers write?
That question framed a computer analysis of 1.5 million words in 2,412 fund-raising texts. The 880 organizations represented spanned all nine philanthropic sectors and included the 735 charities that raise at least $20 million annually, plus 145 smaller nonprofits. By marrying the hard science of multivariate statistics with the soft art of language analysis, it was possible to profile the writing of these elite charities. Factor analysis identified seven traits common to all writing. Then using these key indicators, fund raising discourse was compared to genres like academic prose and personal conversation. So how did fund raisers fare?
The Verdict: The Way We Write is All Wrong.
This was the conclusion of a computer analysis that tagged and tallied 67 linguistic features in texts. For example, I measured . . .
Instead of writing copy that makes a personal and emotional connection with a donor, and that relates a story about someone helped, the typical fundraiser is writing for a professor who's no longer there. That's what the data indicate. It reflects the fact that more than half of nonprofit executive directors hold masters or doctoral degrees. Their writing reflects the patterns of discourse they learned in graduate school—patterns once critical to academic success, but now detrimental to raising money. Their audience has changed but their writing hasn't. Adjusting to the demands of communicating with a donor requires not only convincing the doubting mind, but also touching the apathetic heart so the reluctant will is moved to give.
The shocking results of this study bring to mind the distress call that Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert radioed back to mission control on April 14, 1970. I echo Swigert in describing the implications of this research: Fund raisers . . . we have a problem.
So how do we fix this problem?
That question framed the development of the Narrative Fundraising Seminar. This hands-on workshop will help you:
• Learn how dozens of language features produce specific effects in discourse
• Identify how these features affected outcomes in the texts the research examined
• Apply these lessons as you create a text during the workshop that you can put to use right away
What 17 Thought Leaders Say About this Language Research:
Are You Guilty of Making These Five Fatal
Mistakes When You Write a Fund Appeal?
Whether you raise major gifts face-to-face, speak to groups, write direct mail letters, case statements, or develop online content . . . the Narrative Fundraising Seminar is a practical one-day workshop that will help you avoid the five fatal mistakes fund appeals make. Dr. Frank Dickerson's analysis of 1.5 million words of fund-raising copy across nine charitable sectors revealed that the typical fund appeal . . .
You'll write, read what you write, get critiques, & learn 50 principles . . .
Download the Workshop Overview and
Seminar Agenda by clicking on their thumbnail icons
Cost: $189 | Lunch & Parking: not included
Seminar: 9 am - 4 pm | Free Briefing: 4 pm - 5 pm
Click on the PayPal logo below for seminar of choice to register & pay online with credit card or PayPal . . .
Wednesday June 19, 2013: Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport | 1333 Bayshore Highway | Burlingame CA
Tuesday July 9, 2013: Hampton Inn & Suites Opryland | 230 Rudy Circle | Nashville TN
Friday July 12, 2013: Holiday Inn Express & Suites: North O.S.U. | 3045 Olentangy River Road | Columbus OH
| Can't make the seminar?
Join us for a FREE Research Briefing after each seminar from 4 pm - 5 pm
(RSVP noting briefing date & names of attendees)
workshop's skill practice,
you will learn . . .
• What you should examine in your own writing
• How three language domains work together
• Why Pliny's 90 AD fund-raising letter worked
• Why Harvard's 1633 fund-raising letter failed
• How your nonprofit's writing can be evaluated
• How American Heart tripled direct response
Can't make a briefing?
Email me for FREE downloads
(I will send you a link to more than a dozen articles, a chapter
excerpt from my dissertation, and a speech on power writing
William Zinsser gave at the Columbia School of Journalism.)