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The Loyalty Letter

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

March 2009
Published by Lisa Sargent


The month of March is full of surprises here in New England. One minute it's spring, and the next, snowflakes tumble from the sky. Surprises, however, are one thing you don't want when communicating with your members. That’s why this first article offers an easy way for you to avoid communications surprises, no investment needed.

Until next month, thanks for subscribing... and here's to keeping more donors!

Lisa Sargent
Sargent Communications

Will They Read What You Write?

Once upon a time, I filled in as copy editor for a nonprofit client.

To my horror, I discovered the staff writers were using words like generalities, obfuscate, and career (as a verb) in online articles and brochures, both of which were destined for members and donors... but which read at a level that only college students could tackle.

Please: if you love your donors, don’t do this. Study after study shows that as a rule, most of us (including highly educated folks), prefer to read at a lower grade level. We retain more, too.

And since you want your fundraising appeals, email newsletters and nonprofit website content to get read, here's what to do.

Turn on your Readability Statistics, the handy tool that instantly tells you the “grade level,” or readability, of your donor communications. (No investment needed: if you have Word, it's included.)

Four steps get it done:
1. Open Word, and click Tools.
2. In the Tools dropdown menu, click Options.
3. Click on the Spelling & Grammar tab.
4. Under Grammar, check the box that says, “Show readability statistics.”

Click OK, and that's it! The readability stats of whatever you write now appear like magic, right after you run spellcheck.

This section, by the way, reads at an 8th grade level. I aim for Grade 7 when I write, which generally means: active sentences, powerful verbs, short words over long. But that's what good conversational writing looks like anyhow.

Don't live and die by the numbers. Instead, use the stats as a guideline, and you’ll stack the odds in your favor.
This Legacy Donor Wore Overalls. Do Yours?

Nestled among story snippets on page 4 of The Nonprofit Times this month: a Pennsylvania farmer who lived in a mobile home and favored going to church in worn overalls passed away recently, at the age of 71. He left $2.6 million to his church.

New research suggests that if your planned giving program targets only the “obvious wealthy,” you're missing out. Like our farmer, there's a whole other group of folks who leave bequests – and a right way to ask them to pledge – and you can learn more about it when you click on this secret link to my report on legacy giving, “The Facts Behind the Philanthropy Frenzy.”

That's all for this month!

I hope you enjoyed this premiere issue of The Loyalty Letter... drop me a line and let me know what you think, (Your article ideas and questions welcome, too.)

Got a communications project that needs a donor-centric copywriter?

Call me: +001 (860) 881-7009. Let's talk.

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  “GREAT, meaty report on enews. Thank you for your work.”

~ Tom Ahern, Author of
Seeing Through a Donor’s Eyes


Sargent Communications
PO Box 814, Wolfeboro, NH 03894    
Voice: +001 (860) 881-7009

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