"This research agrees with what almost anybody who spends any time looking at the way nonprofits communicate already knows: Most fund raising copy is wooden, artificial, dull, and ineffective."

Frank, your workshop was the best seminar on effective fundraising communication I've ever attended! Thanks. I will definitely recommend your workshop.


"Dr. Dickerson, I enjoyed hearing that you are another language vigilante struggling to keep everyday writing clear and plain. The subject of fundraising writing has never crossed my path in all my years of teaching various forms of writing. Thank you for your contributions to this craft."

Huntsinger & Jeffer ​

"Frank, thank you for providing such an insightful workshop. I walked away knowing what I need to work on and how to improve my storytelling. This was the most useful training I've had as a fundraiser. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge."

John McIlquham, CEO

Giuseppe Nespoli,​​ Director of Seaver Associates

Peter Panepento, Asst. Managing Editor​

Get Storied​

Mal Warwick & Associates

Mal Warwick, Founder & Chair

Craver, Matthews, Smith​

"Thank you for sharing your research. This is very interesting work and of course extremely relevant for a large nonprofit organization like CARE.  We know the importance of language in delivering our message to donors and the public, and it is both interesting and helpful to read your analysis of the current problems that plague written fundraising communications. We've also been testing similar variables that you mentioned in your study, such as simulated hand-written fonts and nonprofit stamps vs. first class rate to name a few.  And, we continue to learn from our testing and tweaking of direct mail copy as well. Your research will be invaluable to us as we continue to try to 'crack the code' on what motivates individuals to take action through our direct response vehicles."​

Jerome Bruner, PhD

Michael Margolis, President​

Future Fundraising Now & TrueSense Marketing​

"I was pretty impressed. We need more research into the ‘soft  side’ of fund raising. Story telling is where it’s at!"​

Philip Kotler, PhD, Professor of Marketing

Roger Craver, Founder​

Tom Ahern, Principal​

New York University School of Law​

Russ Gibbs, D.Min, CFRE

Gail Perry Associates​

Jeff Brooks​

Northwestern University​

Kymberly McElgunn Wolff, Sr. VP​ of Development

"Fantastic. Great job in dignifying what I have also practiced: ‘Write the way you talk.’ I still do it and still dictate all my letters."​

The Goodman Center​

"Frank, this is amazing work, just the kind of thing we should be doing more of."​

Jerry Huntsinger, Founder​

Pepperdine University

"Wow, we are true soul mates when it comes to fund raising. Terrific. This stuff is great. I can’t wait to highlight it in my work."

"Frank I'll be brief. Awesome, as my young Canadian associates say. Keep it up and if you get to London--well, if you don’t call me for a pub-crawl you’re not half the man you think you are! Here is to the preservation of wisdom."​

"What an interesting extension of narrative research, Frank!  Indeed, there are hardly any studies (that I know of!) that deal with the effectiveness of story-telling in fundraising—though it's taken for granted, somehow, that without a "good story" one's appeal for funds will not get you far. Let me hear more about what you're up to.  It's very "consciousness raising."

William Zinsser, Author of On Writing


"Imagine my pleasure realizing you’re the author of the piece I read a few days ago that I hoped to commend in my e-newsletter. One of my chums in the nonprofit world said: ‘Look, we’re NOT all nuts; and here’s the research to prove it!’ Thank you. You've done everyone a big favor. Lousy written communications are costing the industry gazillions in lost revenue."​

What 22 Thought Leaders Say About The Language Research This Seminar Is Built On:

"Frank, a very impressive study. Having been in direct mail for more than 30  years, your research is a window to the craft of words and  how important copy is to successful direct marketing. In fact, given that twitter only allows 140 characters, I think the ability to write clearly and concisely is even made more important through social media."​

Columbia Graduate School of Journalism

Covenant House​

"I am interested in referencing your findings in The Nonprofit Marketing Guide. Thanks so much for your contribution to the field!"​

"I am a better fundraising writer today thanks to the Narrative Fundraising workshop at Vanderbilt. Dr. Dickerson revealed the science behind crafting a successful fund appeal, using simple, direct language that tells a compelling story."

The NonProfit Times​

Datapreneurs, London​

"OMG Frank! Your work is brilliant! This research is profound and needs to be shared widely.​

Kivi Leroux Miller, Principal​


Ahern Commmunications Ink​

"I completely agree with your take on the way we write. So much communication sent by great organizations is poorly crafted. And that
makes it difficult to get people to listen to very important messages."​

Research Affiliate, MIT​

Joan Smythe Dengler, Sr VP​

Gail Perry, Principal​

Second Harvest

"Frank, I tend to throw away many fund-raising letters and I never thought about analyzing the content and determining what works. I am pre-conditioned to favoring certain charities and causes and pay little attention to other solicitations. But your language analysis and findings are critical to practitioners."​

Network for Good​​

"This research is a wake-up call based on solid evidence, and it couldn’t come at a better time."​

"Frank, wonderful stuff and we’d like our 7000+ readers of The Agitator to benefit from it."​

"Dr. Dickerson, as part of his doctoral studies at Claremont Graduate University, in California, recently analyzed more than 1.5 million words of online and printed fund-raising texts to determine how effectively fund raisers communicate with their audiences. While his findings were enough to fuel a 350-page dissertation, his thesis can be boiled down to a few short words: Most fund-raising copy stinks."​

Habitat for Humanity​, Formerly Sr. VP CARE

"Dr. Dickerson shared the results of his exhaustive analysis of more than a million words of fund-raising copy. He explains why nearly everything he studied came up short."​​

Asst. Dean & Director of Advancement, University of Houston Law School

Bill Smith, Sr. Director of Grants and Fundraising Services

Grant McCraken, PhD​



Andy Goodman, Principal​

John Sauvé-Rodd, Principal​​

The Chronicle of Philanthropy​

Katya Andresen, C.O.O.​