Narrative FundRaising: Beyond Buzz to Substance
About the presenter:
Frank C. Dickerson, Ph.D.
Frank Dickerson started his fund-raising career as a freshman at The Ohio State University in 1969. That’s when he discovered that raising funds came with being president of a student organization.
In 1972 as an undergraduate studying ancient history, Frank conducted an independent research through Ohio State, working at Southern Methodist University and two Dallas area seminaries. His work produced two chapters in what would become the best-selling book by editor and lead author Josh McDowell: Evidence That Demands a Verdict.
That led to two decades working in the nonprofit sector where Frank eventually became director of development for Campus Crusade for Christ. A faith-based U.S. charity now known as CRU, the organization is ranked among the top 10 percent of nonprofits on The Chronicle of Philanthropy 400 list. During his tenure as CRU’s development director yearly income grew 7%-10%, with annual income now approaching half-a-billion dollars.
Since 1990 Frank has worked with Levasis, a Redlands California nonprofit consultancy that helps small nonprofits build their fund-raising capacity. During this time Frank also studied under Peter Drucker at Claremont Graduate University, where Peter’s influence led him to focus his doctoral research in linguistics on the discourse or philanthropy. In plain English, Frank profiled how fund raisers write, based on the content of their copy.
In addition to his consulting work, Dr. Dickerson serves as an adjunct professor at Cal University, a graduate school of business in Southern California. He also continues his academic research on the language of fund raising and conducts a daylong writing workshop called The Narrative FundRaising Seminar, a service outreach of Levasis.
Dr. Dickerson is also president of a media agency called High Touch Communication. High Touch produces direct mail fund-raising campaigns using Story Cards that frame fund appeals with human-interest stories. High Touch Story Cards are also personalized with simulated handwriting to create the look of first class mail in order to increase response.
Frank’s doctoral research hypothesized that the visual language factor of handwriting could do for direct mail what a smile does for speech. The notion was that by increasing personal connection with handwriting, response would increase. A campaign analyzed in his dissertation supported this hypothesis. American Heart Association developed an A/B direct mail test in which a note card, addressed and personalized with simulated handwriting, was compared to a mailing that used their usual window control package format. Response to the simulated handwriting package was 346% higher.
For more Information about Narrative FundRaising
You can learn more about what Dr. Dickerson teaches on this vital subject by visiting www.NarrativeFundRaising.org. From his seminar site you can download his workshop brochure and agenda.
When: Thursday, April 30th, 2015 – 1:00pm-2:00pm Eastern
While everyone knows a good story when they see one, few know what makes a good story good, and fewer still can write one.
All the recent buzz about storytelling is good. But buzz mainly makes your hair stand on end.
What makes this webinar different
Beyond buzz, this webinar will reveal the three dimensions of story building:
- Rhetorical structure (story architecture)
- Linguistic substructure (story construction)
- Artistic infrastructure (story style)
Who should attend this webinar?
This webinar is vital for anyone who interacts with donors, whether:
- face-to-face in living rooms & offices
- from podiums
- via digital channels
- in the dominant medium of direct mail
What you’ll take away
From his doctoral research on the language of fund-raising, Dr. Dickerson will describe:
- 3 Rhetorical superstructures of a connecting narrative moment—the heart and soul of an appeal
- 23 Linguistic substructures that create emotional connection—that create a conversational style
- 5 Linguistic substructures to avoid—language that makes prose dense, tangled, and detached
- 6 Linguistic substructures of narrative—the building blocks of a connecting narrative moment
- 2 Visual language factors that add to text what a smile adds to speech—they lifted response 346%
Time will be given for a lively Q&A session.
This presentation will be recorded for future viewing.
Free resources for attendees
All attendees will receive links to:
- Articles on the language of fundraising
- Dissertation chapters from Frank’s research
- Text of a speech Dr. William Zinsser delivered at NYU that summarizes his book, On Writing Well, which has sold more than a million copies over 30 years.
Frank has offered to make a free, no-obligation critique of any attendee’s next fund appeal.