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The Loyalty Letter

E-news that helps you keep donors connected (and giving)
to your cause.

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January 2015
Published by Lisa Sargent

Welcome, Nonprofit Professionals:

Publicly (passionately) I've let fly that fundraising appeals and other donor communications should read like great literature.

"Give them something beautiful" is my always-mantra and aim.

Weirdly as I was writing this e-news Jeff Brooks also touched on the literature/fundraising-writing link.

Being a production-driven girl, today I want to show you how.

How to pull literary devices into your copy ... why they spark donors to connect with you on a deeper and more lasting level ... plus let you see real examples from my own work.

It's all in your Loyalty Letter below.

Thanks, as ever, for reading.
Until we meet next time... Write on!

Lisa Sargent
Sargent Communications

(Also, sporadically: @lisasargent2. Includes pic of my desk in its natural state. And my favorite frog mug.)

P.S. Next month I'll talk about what to do when your storytelling tanks. I know, I know... nobody wants to drop that ugly little bombshell. But storytelling isn't always the cure. And as a fundraising professional you've got to know why.

See Me, Hear Me: 6 Ways to Use Stylistic and Literary Devices to Connect With Donors on a Deeper Level

Think donors and prospects are just "passive participants" in your fundraising appeals, newsletters, and other donor communications? Think again...

You've probably heard how good stories change your brain by literally immersing you in the action.

But maybe you haven't heard how even bite-sized bits of beautiful writing help donors connect more deeply with your next fundraising appeal or newsletter.

Researchers report that adding even a single word or phrase that's rich with emotion, metaphor and description lights up not only the language centers of the brain -- but also the regions for actually experiencing what's being described. Texture, sound movement and smell also work.

In other words, evocative writing lets them live your letter.

And that means literary and stylistic devices aren't just for authors and poets. Smart fundraisers should use them too.

Here are some literary and stylistic devices that help me bring copy to life... enumerated, explained and exemplified, so you can try them too:

1. Alliteration: this is when you use the same sounds at the beginnings of progressive words. (At the ends it's called 'consonance.')

Lisa’s real-world alliteration examples:
“I am humbled and heartened to bring you...”
He winced when he walked.
...step inside the skin...

2. Rhythm: rhythm is massive in fundraising letters, because it can give your copy a poetic beauty that fires the brain in a similar way to music (research here).

Lisa’s real-world rhythm examples:
“Move along, move along. Where are you supposed to go?”
“You want to cry -- to shout -- to scream in return.“

3. Simile: everyone knows simile, which uses“like’ or “as” to compare things. When well-constructed, very powerful.

Lisa’s real-world simile examples:
“He pulled himself along like a broken bird...”
“It is like a scene from a museum painting.”

4. Personification: gives lifelike qualities to inanimate objects.

Lisa’s real-world personification examples:
“Still you stand to see the faint fingers of daylight fade...”
(Daylight doesn't have fingers, ergo: personification.)

“...the centuries-old books stand like sentinels...”

5. Texture, sound and smell: self-explanatory; evocative descriptors. Smell can be as simple as a single word: coffee, jasmine, a baby’s head. (All you moms and aunties out there are smiling. I can see you.)

Lisa’s real-world texture and sound examples:y
“the jagged pain in your foot”
“the crunch of gravel”
“clinkety clink went the coins into his cup”
“the silken whisper of fur through your fingers”

6. Foreshadowing and flashback: flashbacks pull you back in time; foreshadowing hints at what's to come. (Note: this is really useful when you have too much tension in a story and are afraid your reader will shut down. Sometimes you have to let them know first that everything worked out before you can tell the bad stuff, as with animal or child abuse, for example.)

Lisa’s real-world foreshadowing/flashback examples:
“The creamy brown birthmarks that dotted her skin foretold tumors growing in her body. They foretold a part of her tomorrows as well." (Foreshadowing)

“Her eyes grow wide when she describes The Belt.”
(Flashback, as noted above this girl had been abused, so I used flashback or it would have overwhelmed.)

Final encouragement:
You don’t need to memorize these in order to use them well. Take a google to see other ways people use stylistic and literary devices -- or see if you can pick them out of the next book or appeal you read -- then try them.

Because in the end, if you can give your prospects and donors beautiful copy, they’ll connect with you on a whole new level.

Why does small-shop fundraising maven Pamela Grow feature my interviewing questions in her storytelling course?

Because Pam knows it: if you want to tell great stories in your fundraising appeals and donor newsletters, you need to start with great questions...

Advice and examples in these 3 links, free for you to use.

1. Advanced Interviewing Secrets for Better Storytelling and Stewardship

2. 65 Open-Ended Questions, Free PDF

3. 25 More Interview Questions

Want Pam's full course? Click here to buy it. (FYI: this is not an affiliate link. I make no money off it. Just sharing 'cuz I love and trust Pam, and all her smartness too.)

Happy interviewing!

P.S. Subscribing to The Loyalty Letter is easy:
scroll up for handy sign-up form at the top of this page. 

And lastly, if ever you have a question on donor communications, send it along to The Loyalty Letter. All you have to do is:

Email me.

Or call: +001 (860) 881-7009.

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