Irresistible reading for fundraisers who are always learning

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by Sean Triner

People in my fundraising company write copy, lots of it, and I am happy to call myself ‘an expert fundraising copywriter’. Jeff Brooks’s new book The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications will have a direct and useful impact on my learning, and it will definitely improve my copy.

My online moniker is ‘SeanIsAlwaysLearning’. A ‘friendly’ competitor corrected that to ‘SeanIsAlwaysCopying’ – which I took as a compliment. This is a book I would encourage all my colleagues, clients and anyone in fundraising to use, learn and copy techniques from.

At work I find myself frequently briefed to write an appeal that is ‘positive’ and ‘good news, full of hope’. Jeff points out that good news doesn’t work as a fundraising message in short term or the long term.

However, pure bad news only works in the short term. Jeff worries that it probably won’t work in the long term. If you had to choose, bad news is therefore better – but this book will help you define the correct ‘middle’ ground. Show need – but show progress too.

The best outcome should be a balance – we mustn’t create despair and hopelessness (no long term donations). We need to show something bad and how it can be made good (good short and long term donations). Jeff’s very short chapter on this point – absolutely fundamental to good fundraising – is just one of many gems which I know this book will really help me in tough conversations with clients.

To the point, clear and concise, this book reads like Jeff tells you your donor communications should read. Other gems include longer copy versus short (mail and email appeals), frequency of mailings, case studies versus statistics, styles of writing and more.

Whilst it is not a revelation in new fundraising technique it is a great kick up the butt, reminding us of unarguable rules. It is a weapon to be used in the battle against those who don’t believe in proven fundraising techniques, but it will not win the battle on its own.

Cognitive dissonance is the biggest enemy of fundraisers. Some people with power (boards, CEOs, communications experts) simply don’t believe the fundraising rules despite the evidence. This book will help them understand – it shows them you are not making this up.  But it will be a long battle for many of us.

This is a book of unarguable, universal fundraising truths that apply in every country or culture I have ever worked in – yet are constantly ignored, poo-pood or fall victim of cognitive dissonance and prejudice.

Buy Jeff’s book, do what he recommends and your fundraising communications will be better.

As well as being an expert fundraising copywriter and brilliant fundraising strategist, Sean Triner is cofounder of Pareto Fundraising and Pareto Phone. You can find out more at Sean’s blog

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