Shining a Light in a Bright Room: Using the Internet for Fundraising

Mandy Riggs

When I wake up in the morning, I already have emails asking me for donations.

If I just get on Facebook, I’ll encounter GoFundMe campaigns, Kickstarters, nonprofits, and crisis updates from around the world. Before I can put on my shoes, I’ll have been solicited repeatedly.

Nonprofits have new platforms to communicate with their donors, and writing is central to the process. This is good news for nonprofits and writers. Unfortunately, since social media and email are saturated with demands for money and attention, just posting the piece isn’t enough. You can shine a light on your campaign and needs, but any professional writer who wants to shine a light on their campaign is essentially standing in a room full already flashing lights. How can you stand out without being obnoxious?

Edison lightbulb against tangled Christmas Lights

Know Your Donors

This is a crucial starting place, because it will dictate the rest of your decisions. Spend some time building relationships with people who are passionate about your cause. What is it about your project that appeals to people? What do they want to see their help accomplish? As you go through your routines keep track of how people respond to your outreach. Different people have different reasons for altruism.

Communication Over Content

When you have an email list of people who care about your goals, build your mailers around them. For dedicated supporters, consistent communication is more important than content. Tammy Riggs is an administrator and writer for Por Su Amor, a nonprofit in Peru. Email works well when people know who you are, she said. People who want to give see the email and are reminded, but they don’t always read the full content, she said. Make sure the most important information is the most readable, and as seen in these examples, keep letters skimmable and visually interesting.

Don’t Overdo it!

Here’s a sobering thought: Facebook likes may have a negative correlation to charitable giving. When people feel like they have done their part, they move on. It’s good if people know who you are and care, but popularity is not the same as income, especially if you’re doing good that’s not controversial.

Send your emails on a timeframe that works for your donors. When inboxes get clogged, people miss things or get frustrated and unsubscribe. Regardless of the medium, don’t create a crisis for a hard fundraising push unless there is an actual crisis—you’ll vaccinate your donors against your cries for help. Your donors believe in your cause, or they wouldn’t see a reason to give.

Give Back to Your Donors

Ideally, the donor gives to the charity because they believe in the goals of the charity. They want to see good things happen. Sometimes all you can give them is journalism, said Tammy Riggs. If you describe the reality of the situation you are addressing and how their gift helped, you don’t have to create recurrent false crises. Donations increase when you can connect them to a concrete benefit, Tammy noted. Check out Charity:Water’s Projects page for a visual, fact-based example of nonprofit web design.

Every Dollar Really Counts

In the 2016 election, it was startling to people in both parties that the Bernie Sanders campaign could fare so well on small donations. But it’s simple math. Small gifts do add up, and these days there’s a growing focus on small donation, effective philanthropy. Be sure to communicate to your donors that any gift is helpful. Show appreciation to everyone.

Know Your Voice

It’s important to know who you are. Don’t follow trends that change basic elements of your voice. Maintain a consistent voice across your platforms. Be willing to learn from your experiences, but when you find your voice, stick to it.


Blazer’s Block

ThaLiscia Rankins

What is Writer’s Block?

Julie with entire face covered and her head down

We all have encountered or been the person who watches a cursor blink in silent despair, or changes the font twenty times, before giving up and going to bed. This feeling of having no idea what to write about and feeling frustrated with beginning a writing assignment is known as writer’s block. If you are reading this article you probably know this feeling. We have writer’s block when we can’t get started writing, or when we are stuck halfway through our paper and can’t seem to move forward.

Reasons why we Experience Writer’s Block

    • Fear

Writing can be scary for anyone, especially someone who is very introverted. We experience fear because we are afraid of putting our thoughts out into the open and being judged by our readers, ultimately leading to stress. Wanting to be as good as everyone else, striving to be perfect when you write something, or holding unrealistic standards can lead to writer’s block. Someone who is good at writing may experience writer’s block because of high expectations and not wanting to let anyone down. Maybe you are presenting an idea in class, and fear of rejection makes it harder to write.

Papers everywhere from drafting ideas

    • Content

Several specific things about a writing assignment can lead to stress but the content of the paper is a major reason why we experience writer’s block. Sometimes it is hard to find information about what we are writing about or we run out of ideas for the assignments. The content could be complicated, hard to write about, or we just don’t want to do it because it does not interest us-we find it boring.

Josh is at work thinking about how to start his sports article

    • Burned Out

If you are a writer who has been writing constantly you are more than likely burned out and need to take a break. Writing too much can be bad, especially if you are not getting enough rest. Remember, not resting your mind can cause writer’s block and sleep deficiency is associated with problems in concentration, memory, and the immune system.

Overcoming Writer’s Block

    • Ease the Tension

Quanterrius thinking about where what to write

Writer’s block is frustrating and getting around it can be challenging. Sometimes taking a break and doing something fun to take your mind off of a paper for a while can help with writer’s block. Some creative ways to help with writer’s block includes: listening to music, going for a walk (walking helps to relieve stress and free thoughts), and playing games- whether it’s on a PlayStation, laptop, or phone will help you focus on something else.

    • Eliminate Distractions

While some people need to ease the tension by doing something like playing games other people struggle with avoidance and distractions. Turn your phone on airplane mode to mute distractions, use an app like AppDetox to lock individual apps, or turn off all electronic devices. Changing your workspace could help eliminate distractions as well. If you are sitting in your room trying to write a paper, going to a library or somewhere quiet with other people who are also studying helps with distractions. A change in setting could really get ideas flowing.

    • Just Write

Write about something that is fun and changes the subject to something different. There are websites that support writers and give them a chance to write about something different with fun writing prompts. Sometimes the only way to get past writer’s block is to write what you are struggling with and get it down on paper; handwriting things before typing it can help with your ideas and thoughts.

You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block- John Rodger


Controlling Flow in Writing

 Ashton Cook

From news to fiction to blog posts, writers seek to grab others with their work. It is one of the reasons why creators create: to express themselves in a way that leaves an impact; however, in writing, that impact can be heavily hampered by flaws in coherence and cohesion.

To keep the reader happily invested in whatever they are reading, the text must seem natural and accessible, or flow.

Coherence and Cohesion

For readers to be able to connect to a writing, it must be capable of comfortably communicating with them, which is having coherence. But, to be coherent, the words themselves must be able to connect as seamlessly as possible, which is to be cohesive.

It can be daunting to revise the flow of a piece. Sometimes, the issue with an article can come down to just one word choice, and finding that problematic phrase can feel similar to looking for a needle in a haystack. There are some ways to help make the process simpler.

Who? What? Where?

First and foremost, to know if you’re communicating fluidly with your audience, you must know who they are. If the article or story is meant for a younger audience, using complicated language won’t be very effective. If the target is an academic group, See Mike hike and similarly simple phrasing might come across too dull.

Another thing to consider is sentence length. While it is good to have some sentences that run for a decent amount of space, having too many can leave the reader feeling like they cannot breathe. Too many short sentences can be equally overwhelming. Keeping a good mix of the two can help keep a reader from breaking away from the text.

Sometimes the issue with a piece of writing isn’t in the sentences. Paragraphs can be too lengthy or too brief, or they may introduce material at wrong times. Looking at how you could restructure what you’re working on can lead to finding new ways of strengthening it.

Resources Around You

There are some writings that, no matter how much we rethink and revise, we can’t get satisfied with it. Something is forgotten, leaving the whole text feeling incomplete. Or, maybe, something is awkward, but you can’t figure out what it is. Times like these are when you should have someone review your work with you. Visiting the University Writing Center on campus, meeting with a professor, and finding a good friend are all great solutions for when revision feels like hitting a wall.