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According to legend, the first email newsletter was sent on December 12, 1977. And out of all the millions of email newsletters sent out since that date, this is one of them.
And hopefully a good one.
You’ll learn how to write more better (my spell checker is literally vibrating with anxiety right now), how to retain more donors, and what to do with the words “quiet quitting.”
Now that you’re vibrating with excitement…
by Dave Kirby
On the surface, writing is about getting the right words in the right order. Getting them in the wrong order can create all kinds of confusion.
Did nobody proofread this? As this sign from a bus in Australia proves, even just a cursory glance at our words can fix the surface-level problems.
But here’s the thing, we’re not just in the business of getting the right words in order so they make sense. We’re not writing a manual on how to work a toaster or build a deck.
The words we write are about inspiring someone. They are intended to evoke an emotion and then call on the reader to take action. It’s not just about getting all the words in the right order. It’s about which words we use.
So, with that foundation, here are three ways to make your writing more compelling and, as a result, more effective:
Use visual words
All words are not the same. Some words are boring, and some evoke emotions. Some words are passive, and some are active. Some words inspire, and some just sit there, taking up space on the page.
Use words your reader can see in their brain and evoke an image in your reader’s mind. Use words that inspire action. Words, at their best, make us feel something. You only get so many of them, so make them count.
Reread your piece when it’s complete and ask yourself, “Is there a better word?” For every word.
Use relatable words
We often see our writing as a chance to prove how smart we are. So instead of using words that our readers relate to, we sound like we threw up a thesaurus.
Talk like a real person. Your readers are much more likely to accept what you say if they feel like it’s a conversation among equals. Buzzwords, technical jargon, or medieval French poetry might make us feel good about ourselves but are probably offputting to the reader.
I have seen it said that you should “dumb down” your writing to a sixth-grade level. I’m not sure that’s accurate. But the point is there. Unless you’re writing a piece for the Harvard Alumni Association, your readers are regular people who use regular words.
Simplex est optimus. (I couldn’t resist)
Use fewer words
Attention spans are getting shorter. People don’t spend time reading like they used to. In fact, I’m not even sure you’ve read this whole article. It’s ok. I stopped in the middle of writing it to send 2 text messages, check my email, and play a game of Sudoku on my phone.
Tiktok recently did a survey and found that a third of their users find it stressful to watch a video longer than 1 minute. They even quoted an exasperated social media user to make their point: “It’s not because I don’t have time, but because I can’t concentrate. I can’t concentrate.”
Let that sink in!
And here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter how compelling your words are. If they don’t read them, you lose. And “wall of text” is a big, flashing neon sign that says, “don’t read this.”
Make it scannable. Use shorter paragraphs. Use bolded type to highlight the things you want to ensure they read.
Look at the piece and ask yourself, “If they only read the highlighted words, do they get the message I’m trying to convey?”
Here’s some homework
Take a look at these two paragraphs and tell me which is more compelling:
We hope you’ll join us with a donation to reach out to those who are hurting. You are an important part of the ministry of hope.
Right now, there’s someone desperately crying out to God for hope. When you give, He’s using you to answer their prayer. Please give today. You’re a critical part of God’s plan in someone’s life!
That’s just an example, and probably gets a C+. I’m still learning this stuff too. But hopefully, it illustrates how by changing words, we change the emotion. And in fundraising, emotion is everything.
There are lots of numbers and bar graphs in this report. But the bottom line is that ⅔ of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck these days. Thinking about that number might impact how you fundraise.
Mastercard has new regulations kicking in next year for how we handle recurring donations. You’ll definitely want to pay attention. Here are some guidelines for how to comply.
If you’re looking for a text messaging platform to replace ZipWhip, you might want to look at Innovative Digital Technologies.
We have a client using and liking it.
Have you ever had a stray cat show up in your yard? When one does, you have two choices. You can feed it, or you can not feed it. But if you feed it, expect that cat to hang around your house until the day it dies.
Donors are kind of the same. If you feed them, they tend to hang around. If you don’t feed them, they’ll likely wander off in search of someone who will.
Assuming your donors don’t want a saucer of milk, how do you feed them?
You communicate with them. You thank them and remind them that what they’re doing is essential. You invest in them with content to help them grow in their lives and families. If they feel like they’re part of your team, they’ll likely stay. If you don’t, they won’t.
That’s why we developed the Fundraising 365 Toolkit. It’s a calendar and ready-made resources to help you communicate with your donors throughout the year. All you have to do is plug it in and let it do the work for you.
And if you retain just ONE dollar-a-day giver over the next year, the toolkit has more than paid for itself. That’s near the top of the “no brainer” scale.
Click here to look at the toolkit and get it for your station.
Remember: Feed the donors, and they stay.
by Paul Goldsmith
There’s something even worse than when a good employee leaves your organization. It’s when they stay and disengage, now called “Quiet Quitting.”
The term appeared only recently, following “the great resignation” when millions of people left their dead-end jobs. But scores of other people, instead of quitting, decided to re-calibrate how much of their attention and efforts would go to work beyond the minimum.
This is not a new challenge.
We all, at some point, lose the initial excitement when joining a new company or team. The honeymoon period ends, and then we must decide if and how we’ll stay motivated day in and day out. If you’re a manager, this is your most important task: find ways to inspire yourself and your team to stay engaged and work together for a common purpose.
We hire creative, knowledgable workers, not robots. We need our people to use their hearts and minds to connect with the audience. “Command and control” management doesn’t work in our line of work. Our calling is higher; we must inspire, rather than demand, greatness!
Christian radio stations are only as good as the humans representing them to listeners, clients, and donors.
If any part of your station is on autopilot, the phones go to voicemail, and social media is a one-way dumping ground to promote the station, your station has already quiet quit. Your automation and signal limitations cannot compete with “the algorithm” of YouTube, Pandora, and Spotify.
Sam Parr is the host of “My First Million,” one of the most popular business podcasts, #30 on iTunes as of this writing, and recently sold his website and e-newsletter “The Hustle” for somewhere between $25-30 Million. He knows a lot about reaching an audience. Sam is not alone, he is representative of a generation of Americans under 45 who listen to “radio” that connects with them on their own terms.
How will we compete? With people.
People are expensive, but it’s the only hope we have to connect with an audience. We’re in the relationships business and shouldn’t expect our work relationships to be purely transactional if we want people to be “all in.”
However, please, whatever you do, don’t refer to your team as a “family.” We don’t fire our kids. Work teams don’t last a lifetime. People’s aspirations can change, and they can leave. That’s okay. While you have a person on the team, it’s incumbent upon leaders to learn about their team's individual hopes and dreams and share with them how you are committed to helping them achieve and grow.
If we hope to avoid having our halls and studios filled with quiet quitters, we must find out “why” each person is there in the first place. Then, connect their job to their “Why” and find out how they like to be validated.
For some people, that’s money. But for others, it’s public recognition, or more free to take time away from the office. Everyone likes to be recognized for their specific contributions and know what success looks like for their specific job. Clarity is kind.
When expectations are set upfront about what success looks like, and timelines are outlined, it clears up the perceived need to micromanage anyone. People know when they are valued. Whether that’s your listeners or employees, if you don’t want them to quiet quit, lead by example, and spark some renewed creativity and excitement for anyone who comes in contact with your station.
Sure, people can leave at any time, but why would they when they feel so appreciated and know how valuable their unique contribution is to everyone else? Treat people like they matter, and they tend to reciprocate.
Thanks for reading!
You genuinely are why we do this. Please hit the “reply” button to let us know your thoughts about the newsletter.
And if Vidare Creative can help you with fundraising, direct mail & digital, strategic planning, leadership and management consulting, or programming, let us know! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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