The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Rich Details for Record-Breaking Results (Case Study)

Dizzy Gillespie

Image: Roland Godefroy



“When the new antenna went live, you’d swear that Dizzy Gillespie was playing right next to you.”

I can easily visualize this scene—and hear it. Can you?

In fact, this appeal excerpt from WBGO (New York City’s premier jazz radio station) made the listening-enriching value of the station’s new antenna crystal clear—by showing, not telling.

Compare this with the way another station introduced its new antenna:


Replacing the equipment and moving it to the higher elevation immediately improved the strength of the signal, says Tyron, increasing the broadcast penetration within the licensed area (approximately a 35-mile radius from Claremont); improving the signal reach for areas like Covina, El Monte, San Bernardino, and Riverside; diminishing interference with the signal; and resulting in fewer drops of the signal.

Blah, blah, blah. Beware the curse of knowledge. This writer has been cursed, forgetting that the people she wants to engage aren’t exposed to the specifics at the memorable gut level like she is. As a result, she (like so many nonprofit writers) writes in broad, vague strokes—or dull minutiae—that are forgotten in a flash.

Instead, pepper your fundraising messages with rich, memorable details to make them:

  • Authentic: The right details give a story a much greater presence, a feeling of real truth.
  • Unique: Getting specific is often the fastest way to make content rise above the average. The details distinguish your message from those that would otherwise sound similar. Shout out and shine!
  • Convey much more with fewer words: Specific words and images can clarify a message much faster than a long-form narrative explanation of the core point.
  • Transport the reader: Like a good movie or compelling novel, where you get completely absorbed in the story, rich details can draw your audiences into getting lost in your message. As a result, readers are far more likely to remember it, act, and spread the word.

How do you use rich detail to show (not tell), bringing your prospects and supporters into your organization’s story? Please share your experiences in the comments.

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About This Blog

Linda Lombardi

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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