"If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter." - French Mathematician and Philosopher Blaise
As a coach to nonprofit leaders, I have written and reviewed my fair share of fundraising appeals and case for support documents for various organizations. I know EXACTLY what Blaise is describing in his quote from 1657. Centuries later, content writers are still trying to figure out how to communicate in a clear, concise and compelling way. Myself included! Personally, I think it’s so much easier to write a long letter.
According to a study by Microsoft, the average human being now has an attention span of eight seconds. This is a decrease from the average attention span of 12 seconds in the year 2000. In this time of information overload, it’s important to keep this statistic in mind when crafting blogs, newsletters, emails and fundraising appeals.
It’s especially tempting for nonprofit leaders to go overboard with long, detailed stories in an attempt to show your supporters how you are investing their gifts, while praying they give more. However, I have learned less is more. You can still tell your supporters all those wonderful stories and achievements but spread it out. Drip feed it to them. In other words, share more frequently - but less each time.
Think Twitter...how can you say what needs to be said with less words?
Which is better?
A. Hope school provides a road to hope for female and male youth who are at risk of becoming involved or have been involved in sex trafficking.
B. Prevention and restoration of youth from the nightmare of sex trafficking.
A. Fulfill the Great Commission in helping people become fully functioning followers of Christ and teach the tenets of Christianity by equipping believers for a significant ministry.
B. Followers of Christ, fully equipped to fulfill the Great Commission.
B for the win both times!
Here's a few additional tips to make your content more digestible.
Highlight important keywordsUse bullets to make important points stand outUse subheadings to break out key sectionsFocus on one idea per paragraphDon't include multiple calls to actionUse graphics, infographics and eye-catching photosMake sure there is plenty of white space
BONUS TIP! Provide additional information where it matters most.
Which is better?
A. We need: $34,000 to meet the year-end goal $27,000 to cover operations expenses $15,000 to purchase a van
B. We need: $34,000 to save 100+ babies next year $27,000 for a new medical unit to reach 5 local campuses $15,000 to purchase a van to transport residents to therapy
B for the win again!
What do you think? Easier to write a shorter letter or longer?