YOUIf you have played the game of scrabble you know that some letters are worth more than others.  Just like the humble letter “Y” will give you four extra points if you play it, using the word “you” in fundraising letters adds more value as well.

It can instantly transform a letter from being a dry, one sided speech to being a dialogue between you and the reader.  Isn’t that what a letter is supposed to be anyway?

This is one of ten tips that Kivi Leroux Miller presented last week in her webinar “10 Captivating Ways to Start Fundraising Letters, Newsletter Articles, Press Releases, and More.” Seeing really is believing when it comes to the differences that some of these small changes can make.  On the webinar Kivi showed before and after examples for all of the tips.

Here’s a comparison of two versions of a paragraph about child sponsorship that I found from World Vision:

Plain text:

With a completed sponsorship, more information will immediately be sent about the sponsored child.  We will also mail the child’s photo, and more about his or her life, including information about the child’s country and ways to communicate with him or her.

With the power of YOU (actual text, emphasis added):

After completing your sponsorship, you will immediately receive more information about your new sponsored child. We will also mail you the child’s photo, and more about his or her life, including information about the child’s country and ways you can communicate with him or her.

The first example is in the passive voice.  Even though it directs signing up for the sponsorship program toward the reader, without the personal pronouns it just lacks that element of real conversation.  After all you wouldn’t speak that way to someone would you? Adding the power of you transforms the paragraph into something much more engaging.

This is just one of the ten strategies that Kivi discussed on her webinar. Even if you did not make the live event you can see the recorded replay with the all access pass. There are quite a few other great topics lined up for the coming weeks including more on writing, publicity and even web communications.

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Posted on 08 October 2008

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EFI