With this first post, I want to provide some insight into how I developed my tagline. Because I think the process is valuable for those from the outside to understand a bit.

Everyone knows that a good business has a good tagline, catch phrase, or slogan. “Just Do It” will be forever linked with Nike. “Where’s the Beef?” transformed Wendy’s. And “They make money the old-fashioned way … they earn it” brought Solomon Smith Barney to the top of people’s minds and tongues for decades.

So I want a good tagline. Something catchy, something unique. Something that helps me, in a few words, get to the heart of what I do.

But what is it I do? Well, I started by saying I “help nonprofit organizations raise money through direct mail and grant writing”. But that’s a mouthful, and it sounds rather org-speak. Like I’m a robot, or I’ve been trained to say that, or that’s what I think you want to hear.

Yet fundraising is, at its heart, an emotional endeavor. Those who are asking have to love the person they are asking from, and those who give have to love the cause they’re supporting. So how can I move from a cold, institutional feel to a personal, intimate connection?

Through action words. And through cutting what’s unnecessary. I’ll show you how directly. Let’s take it one piece at a time.

Helping nonprofit organizations raise money through direct mail and grant writing.

Helping…  This, in a sense, is rather passive. I’m “helping”? Isn’t that like giving an old lady a hand as she crosses the street? I want something more dynamic, more powerful. Assisting? Not strong enough. Educating? Still rather formal. What about enlightening? Ah, there it is, the perfect word.

Enlightening is an active word, it’s something that I’m doing. It’s more than educating, because educating doesn’t require any action thereafter. With enlightenment, you have the connotation that there is to be something the audience will do later on, once they are enlightened.

…nonprofit organizations…   Hm, this is long-winded. Can I just say “nonprofits”? Wouldn’t that be better?

Though, remember, if you’re reading this as someone interested in my copywriting services, you don’t really want to know that I write on behalf of nonprofits. You want to know what audience I target. So, let’s change this. Instead of writing about who signs my check, let’s make this about who I get to take action… my target audience. These people are the potential donors, those who will receive a direct mail letter or e-mail autoresponder or grant proposal.

This seems more appropriate as the focus of what I do. I could write on behalf of the nonprofit, to their board or the newspaper or to partner agencies, but that’s a whole different skill set. And it doesn’t bring in any more money. Let’s keep the focus right here then, on the intended audience.

So where are we?

Enlightening potential donors …


raise money … Sounds rather sales-y. I don’t like it. Especially since the previous section flipped the focus from the organization to the audience.

And what is it I want the audience to do? Give money! But why would they?

Because they get a benefit. Perhaps they find a sense of community in their donation. Perhaps they’re doing it to set a good example for their children. Or maybe they just want to have a quiet, clean green space to hike in themselves.

The basic point is that most nonprofits are not selling a product. They don’t have financial newsletters or diet supplements or the best new fashion in the last decade. Nonprofits have a mission, and their potential donors may not be able to directly participate. But they can still benefit from the mission, and that’s what they need to know. What they need to understand. Where they need enlightenment. They will benefit from giving.

See how it’s starting to come together?

Enlightening potential donors to the benefits of giving…

… through direct mail and grant writing. Well, are those the only way to do it? No, there will be other methods – pamphlets, autoresponders, blog posts, newsletters, etc. Why should we stop at direct mail and grants? Only because that’s all that will fit on our tagline? No need to constrain anyone like that. And, if I do, am I saying I can’t do a blog for you? I’d rather not limit my work now or in the future.

I think it’s reasonable to just cut it there and leave it.

Enlightening potential donors to the benefits of giving.

And there you have it. One tagline, hot and ready out of the oven. It’s shorter, it’s more action-oriented, it focuses on the audience and not the organization, and it doesn’t place limits on how we conduct business. It may not catch on like “Just Do It”, but I think it’s a winner.

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