Write Like A 6th Grader – Simple and Bold


By Jamie Sargent

September 16, 2021

If donors have to work hard to understand your message, they will likely stop reading. And when donors stop reading, they are unlikely to make a gift. It’s that simple.

The best fundraising writing shouldn’t be higher than a 6th grade reading level. Your donors are constantly bombarded with messages in the mail and online. Make sure your organization cuts through the noise by keeping your message simple, direct, and bold.

I’ve heard the argument from fundraisers that writing at a 6th grade level would insult their donors. It’s not about education, it’s about ease of understanding. Writing at a higher grade level doesn’t make your appeal more impressive or impactful. It makes your appeal less likely to be read and therefore, less likely to generate a donation.

Keep your writing conversational. There is simply no reason to use the phrase “in a timely manner” when “on time” is shorter, more conversational, and carries the same meaning. Don’t use “consequently” when “so” will do the trick.

Refer to  this list of complex words and suggested simpler substitutes when you write your next appeal: plainlanguage.gov/guidelines/words/use-simple-words-phrases/.







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