My plea for emotional copywriting: why you should spill your guts
There are some “tricks” you can use to improve your appeal. Simple things, really, like better formatting. I mentioned 8 things you can do to improve your letters here. And how you can improve your writing by keeping it simple here.
But there’s one thing you can do that you can’t reduce to a formula or a checklist. And it’s one too many people avoid when they’re trying to write to donors.
You’ve got to wear your heart right out there on your sleeve.
Maybe even on the front of your shirt.
To make your writing effective, to make it feel sincere, you’ve got to dig into yourself. You’re going to have to let go a little and allow yourself to feel all the feels.
Emotional copywriting – think of it like acting.
Back in my pre-kids life, I enjoyed performing. I loved to sing and dance and act. Acting could be a challenge. I had to dig into my character, think about his or her emotions and live them – even if just for a little while.
Well, I was writing a thank you letter recently. And I realized I was doing pretty much the same thing.
No, there wasn’t a character. But there was an idea, a profile, of the person who’d be reading this letter. And of the person the reader would want to hear from.
You have to become the writer (or the best possible, most sympathetic version of the writer). And you have to become the reader, as well.
As the writer, you want to think about:
- What is it I’ve experienced that will tell the story of my organization?
- What do I feel every day when I see the problems a donation will help?
- How do the people we serve feel about the work?
Note I’m not suggesting a list of programs here. You don’t want to include an organizational resume.
Because you’re selling benefits (to the community, the people you help, the donor) not features (all the cool things your organization does). Remember, you’re not going to amaze people into giving.
As the donor, you want to think about:
- How will I feel when I read this?
- Is it about me?
- Why should I care – why should I get emotional about this?
- What is it I can do to help?
There are other characters to consider, as well. If you’re telling a story about someone your organization has helped, you need to get into his skin.
The bottom line?
Actors have to be willing to be vulnerable. They expose emotions to an audience. It can leave them feeling raw, exposed – but also exultant. It’s a very human experience.
So is giving. And your writing needs to be just as vulnerable, exposed and human.
That’s how you win hearts – and donations.
Photo thanks to Shlomit Wolf