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How to make your fundraising "last words" ECHO-echo-echo

Brett here:

I used to write "Daily Thoughts" – aka, me trying to be quotable from 2014 to 2021.

I wrote one every day... 2,519 in total. The process taught me a lot about writing.

1 big takeaway?

"Last words echo."

Here's how...

Ask yourself if the last word in a sentence, in a section, in a piece, echoes in a way that sounds right to you.

Suddenly — in Brett's brain:

Wait, is "you" the word I want to echo in the above? Hmm... Maybe I should change that last sentence to: 

"Ask yourself if the last word in a sentence, in a section, in a piece, echoes in a way that sounds right."

Hey — let me outta Brett's brain already!

Okay, fine, have it your way...

So — which of the two options above is best? Should the sentence end with "you" or with "right" echoing?

(Or maybe there's an even better word?)

Alas, there's no one best echo. It depends on context, tone, mood, and everything else that has led to the thought at hand and mind.

The main thing is to develop the habit of thinking and revising strategically, paying careful attention to last words because they echo the most.

Of course, this applies to fundraising writing...

For example, how might you revise the following sentence (source: my mailbox) to echo more resoundingly?

[ORGANIZATION NAME] provides relief to families like Floria's who are struggling to survive in primarily 17 countries throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.

I suggest to you that "Latin America" (two words/one concept) is not a thought that ought to be echoed now.

Consider this revision:

[ORGANIZATION NAME] works primarily in 17 countries throughout the Caribbean and Latin America to provide relief to families like Floria's who are struggling to survive.

"Survive" echoes more powerfully, don't you agree? *

Finally, notice please, what's going on with this list:

  • here, 2021, total, writing, takeaway, echo, simple, how, you, brain, above, right, already, way, best, echoing, word, echo, mind, most, fundraising writing, resoundingly, mailbox, Latin America, now, revision, survive, agree, list

Yes! – it's a collection of every previous last word from this piece. I hope you'll notice the variety and the relevance.

Typically, you should avoid unnecessary repetition of most any word... including when it acts as a "caboose."

Each sentence should be like a powerful locomotive 🚂 – chugging along impressively – driving reader momentum – charming us with its lovely, resonant "whoo-whoo!"

(Note that – similar to "Latin America" – "fundraising writing" in the bulleted list above is really one idea distinct from "writing" in general.

Usually you'll want to focus on last words, but occasionally you'll need to expand your thinking to include last concepts.)

* (For more on why our "echoes" matter, see the "recency bias" and "the serial-position effect.")

 

While you're here...

Why not read a little more?

Here are a few more blog posts you might like:

1. Thank You for the "Mental Real Estate"

2. You Can't Feel "Empty Urgency"

3. X-ray of a Donor Newsletter -- "Know Your Bones"

4. You Can't Get Donors to FEEL It If You Don't Feel It First

 5. Your Next Appeal: From Interview to Fundraising Story

 

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