8 Tips for Better Copy in 2020


By Impact Team

January 29, 2020

Last fall, Kathy Swayze, CFRE and Barry Cox hosted a Copy Clinic for the Direct Marketing Association of Washington (DMAW)—complete with doctor’s coats and all. In case you missed it, here are eight of the copy tips they shared during the clinic to help you write copy better throughout 2020.

  1. Don’t tell me about your organization’s programs, tell me about the people you serve. Whose lives are you changing? Stories remind us of our common humanity and inspire us to help.
  2. Don’t be afraid to push the right emotional buttons. Greed, fear, compassion, and anger are all great motivators to action. Understand how your donors FEEL about the issue and push those buttons.
  3. Write to one person, not a group. Stop saying “you and other generous supporters” and write to one person like a friend.
  4. Use “you” and “I,” but mostly “you.” Give your donor credit for the difference they are making.
  5. Show the humanity of your signer.  Encourage your signers to share personal stories about trips, their family, their favorite places . . . to show that they are actual human beings.
  6. Talk less about what you do; more about why. What’s the big dream you are working for? A world without cancer. An end to senior poverty. Talk about that.
  7. Ask for money, ask for money, ask for money.  Ask at least three times in your letter—and don’t use wimpy words like “hoping you will consider a gift.”
  8. Hydrate. Sometimes a glass of wine (or tea or coffee) is just what you need to get your juices flowing when you are staring at a blank page.


Photo credit: Chris West Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license

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