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By Amy Eisenstein

As a fundraiser, you’re expected to do a lot of writing. Annual appeals, grant applications, thank you letters, emails, donor stories, newsletters, annual reports. The list goes on and on. In fact, you may spend a large chunk of every workday writing.

And regardless of whether you enjoy writing or believe yourself to be a good writer, writing can sometimes be a drag. It can also feel redundant if you find yourself telling the same story over and over.

6 Tips to Overcome Writer’s Block as a Fundraiser

The challenge for you as a fundraiser is to constantly come up with new and interesting ways to share the story of your organization. With that in mind, here are some ways to overcome writers block for fundraisers.

1. Outsource Your Writing

I don’t mean literally, but figuratively speaking. Enlist others to help you with writing.

For example, ask clients and donors to share their stories with you and others. Use interview-style writing to ask them questions and have them respond (either in writing or verbally). All you need to do is come up with an introductions, questions, and a conclusion.

You might also try using one of the new AI chatbots (like ChatGPT) to compose an initial framework for whatever you need. Just make sure you put in the time to edit the output to make it more personal and relevant.

2. Keep a Running List of Ideas

Instead of trying to come up with amazing ideas in the moment, keep a list on your phone of ideas as they come to you. I often get my best ideas in the middle of the night or right before I fall asleep. I jot them down on a pad on my nightstand (sometimes I don’t even turn on the lights). In the morning, the idea is there and waiting for me.

3. Try a New Format

Are the things you write always “by you?” What if you wrote in your Executive Director’s voice or from the perspective of a client?

One time I was so bored writing my daughter letters at camp, I wrote one from the dog. It was much easier and more fun to write about chasing squirrels in the backyard, and I know my daughter appreciated the humor.

4. Get Inspired by Others

If you Google “fundraising thank you letter examples” you’ll get tons of inspiration, both good and bad. Take what others have written and make it your own. Look at other nonprofit newsletters and annual reports for ideas.

When I’m really stuck for blog post ideas, I turn to Google and even my colleagues’ blogs. I want to know what they’re writing about for hot topic ideas.

5. Take a walk around the block

When all else fails, take a walk around the block. Clear your head and watch the sky. Think of things you’re grateful for. Consider what would make you excited to read… or write!

And if you’re need of some other ideas to take a break and be your best you, I’ve got 30 others you can try.

6. Change Up Your Environment

If you normally write in your office, head to a coffee shop. When the weather is nice, write outside. If you always write on the computer, grab a pencil and paper. In other words, change it up. That can do a lot to get your creative juices flowing.

Try This — Set a Personal Writing Goal

To really help you stay motivated, set a personal writing goal. When I wrote my first book, I challenged myself to write one page per day. If I kept to it, by the end of one year, I’d have 365 pages — an entire book.

Would it help to write for 20-30 minutes every morning? What about right before you go to bed?

Get into Your Ideal Mental and Physical State

Think about your best place, time, and writing mindset. I often do my best work from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m., before my phone starts ringing.

Another writing goal I have is to write one blog post every week. I’ve skipped a few, but I’ve essentially written 50 blog posts a year for more than a decade. I mostly write them between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. every Tuesday on my couch. I put the finishing touches on as I climb into bed. Having a routine time and place for writing helps as well.

About: Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE is one of the country's leading fundraising consultants. She speaks internationally at fundraising conferences and in nonprofit board rooms about raising major gifts and capital campaigns.

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