Fundraising and Word Selection in Campaigns

Fundraising campaign word selection is critical. Word selection can make or break your fundraising campaign efforts. How do you know when to use what word? The focus is always on how you wish to appeal to the audience and who needs to feel something. More often than not, the word that needs to be focused on, is the word ‘you.’

The word ‘You’

Fundraising is for the organization, right? Well, yes and no. The funds benefit the organization, but the fundraising campaign needs to focus on the donor. The ultimate focus is helping the donor see how they are the ones helping to ‘save the world’ or whatever your organization’s focus is. Sure, it’s great that your organization ‘saves the world,’ but the donor needs to feel what it is like to know they are part of ‘saving the world.’ Give them agency and ownership over the outcome. Remind them that this isn’t about you as much as how they can help ‘save the world.’

People act based upon what they experience than what is going on with your organization. This doesn’t mean they don’t care about what is going on with your organization. They won’t donate to an organization that will fail to fulfill its mission. That is poor use of the donor’s funds and the donor then feels affronted for having donated to not ‘saving the world.’ This makes them feel lied to and cheated. Their agency and ownership of the outcome was taken away from them. Knowing this reinforces the validity of how important your language choice is in your fundraising campaign as much as it is a major responsibility for you to follow through on the program goals and outcomes promised to the donor. 

Donor Motivations

Donors contribute for various reasons, but much of it has to do with their own personal life journey and how much your program resonates with their experiences. How can you know their motivations? You really can’t. Much of our communities have similar experiences. It depends upon your target audience. If what you do resonates with something they personally have dealt with or feel passionate about because someone important to them was impacted by this issue, they will take serious interest and often provide support in the way of volunteering and donating. This has a lot to do with the donor development phase. Not all donors are familiar. You should always strive to gain new donors as well as grow your current donor contributions.

Word Choice to Appeal to the Inner Voice 

Since it is hard to know the inside motivation of every single donor, it is critical to select words in your fundraising campaign that will incite alliance, allegiance, and personal ownership of the outcome. This also means the word ‘you’ should be used often. Fundraising campaign word selection focus shouldn’t be how great your organization is as much as it is how great they are as donors to accomplish such an amazing outcome goal by participating. Make sure they know they are making a difference in a longer game success, not just a short-term need. Short-term always invokes fear and insecurity that the outcome will not be achieved because instability is apparent. This is important to remember.

Words to Avoid

The favored word is ‘you,’ the words to avoid are: me, we, us, our, and anything else that isn’t ‘you.’ All these words do is pull the focus off of the donor and draw their attention to something other than their own motivation. It’s less inspiring to them because it isn’t about them and their experience. They don’t take ownership over external experience. They take ownership over their own experience. 

It also invites the opportunity for it to become too mechanistic, too data-driven, less relatable, and more detail-heavy. They will know your organization is successful by you following through on the outcome goal of the fundraiser that the donor contributed to when they chose to take ownership over the outcome by doing something to move it forward. Always remember this.

Fundraising campaign word selection can use third person pronouns when addressing beneficiaries of the fundraiser outcome goal. 

Primary lesson: YOU is your favorite word in every fundraising campaign.