“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

So says the 14th Dalai Lama. And if it’s good enough for him it’s certainly good enough for me. I like the word “kind” because its synonym, “nice,” has taken on a pejorative flavor in some circles. Nice is sort of like the consolation prize adjective, what you get labeled if you’re not brilliant or… Read more

Stand out copy

Every time you sit down to write, you have a chance to make an impression. Your emails to donors, your thank you notes, your receipts… they can all stand out. But only if they don’t sound like the same old same old. Is your copy up to snuff? Are you reflecting your unique brand personality… Read more

What Quentin Tarantino can teach you about fundraising copy

Quentin Tarantino knows how to write dialogue. His characters’ conversations intrigue (from Pulp Fiction), provoke suspense (from Inglourious Basterds) and entertain (from Reservoir Dogs). His dialogue often reveals more about his characters than anything else onscreen. While crucial to screenplays, dialogue is often missing from fundraising copy. But why? I presented at Fundraising Day NYC a few… Read more

A Ferris Bueller Trick: Break the Fourth Wall Unpredictably

Ferris Bueller was far from the first comic lead to break the fourth wall and address the audience directly. Woody Allen (wait for 1:58), Groucho Marx (in Horse Feathers), and many others did it before Matthew Broderick’s iconic character endeared himself to 80’s audiences everywhere. No matter who’s at the helm, there’s something very powerful about… Read more

Need to change minds? Make a weaker argument.

Liberals are baby-killers. Conservatives won’t let women control their own bodies. Conservatives are oil-guzzlers who hate the planet. Liberals are chicken littles who don’t understand the cost of energy. Often, the arguments that we most frequently use to try to change our opponents minds — in policy debates, in communications work, in storytelling — are… Read more

Are you singing or just explaining what singing sounds like?

The famous opera singer Joan Sutherland sang with amazing agility, incredible intonation, and supremely pinpointed staccatos. Critics dissected her voice and technique, but most audiences simply enjoyed the power, emotion and sound they felt when they listened to her majestic voice. To enjoy the music, we don’t have to know all that goes into producing it.… Read more