Personality goes along way

I wish people paid less attention in school.

Specifically fundraisers, in their English class.

Like me, you probably learned in school that you should never begin a sentence with conjunctions like And, But and Because etc.

Yet the best fundraising copy frequently opens sentences with these conjunctions. It makes for conversational language. One person talking to another.

It’s human. Friendly. Informal.

And follows the natural pattern of speech, moving the reader quickly along from one sentence to the next. And helps to create short, punchy sentences.

An informal tone of voice can feel over-familiar in a professional business context. But in fundraising copy, being friendly and personable is the point. It allows us to express emotions and be passionate talking about the causes we care about. And emotions open wallets.

More formal alternatives comes across as stuffy, formal and ultimately less readable.

And if fewer people read your fundraising appeals, fewer people will respond and help your cause. And that’s what it all boils down to.

Take for example this line, we wrote for Barretstown’s 2014 Christmas appeal…

“…children who are seriously ill rediscover their confidence, self-esteem and independence.

They make new friends and remember what it is to be a child again. They smile. And they laugh. And they go home stronger.

Your gifts make it all possible.”

It’s emotional and heartfelt.

(Note: Barretstown do amazing work rebuilding the lives of children affected by childhood cancers. If you like to help or find out about their work, click here.)

If these lines were written in a more formal impersonal stuffy style, the Barretstown appeal might read like this:

At Barretstown, we help seriously ill children to deal with developmental and psychological issues associated with experiencing childhood illnesses.

Their social skills and confidence are improved through interacting with other children, therapeutic play and structured therapy sessions.

Donations from the public need to fund the cost of running our services for this children.

Boring, eh?

So, writing the way that we speak sometimes means starting sentences with conjunctions like… you guessed it And But Because etc.

For more effective campaigns, it’s best to write in a friendly and informal way. Like one human talking to another.

Personality goes a long way you know!

PS: And for the record, it’s actually grammatically correct to start a sentence with conjunctions like “And”. I’ve googled it more than once so here’s a link to save you a few clicks.

Any thoughts?