I’m always talking about the power of storytelling in nonprofit marketing, and a lot of those stories end up taking the form of personal profiles of donors, clients, volunteers and other supporters and partners.

Problem is that many of them are just plain awful.  I see bad profiles falling into four categories:

Avoid "Gushing Flackery" and Other Profile Don'ts1. Tedious Bio Syndrome. It’s the narrative equivalent of a resume. Or worse, it starts when they were born. Total snoozer.

2. Too Shallow and Wide. The profile brushes over so many different aspects of the person’s life that we don’t get enough interesting detail about any of them. The cardboard cutout equivalent of a human being.

3. Gushing Flackery. The worst kind of profile that is so obviously written just to kiss up (OK, we know you are just trying to say Thank You, but really, it’s too much). Be nice to your VIPs, but don’t overdo it.

4. Mildly Entertaining, But Pointless. It might be a nice story, but why are you telling it? If your reader doesn’t understand why you are telling her about this person and how it is supposed to make her feel or what it is supposed to motivate her to do herself, then what’s the point?

That’s the bad news. The good news is that I have identified seven different formats for personal profiles that are actually interesting and will therefore do what profiles are intended to do: inspire others!

I’m offering two free ways for you to get some tips on how to write better profiles.

  • Magic Keys Radio & Podcast This Friday

On Friday, May 22 at Noon Eastern (9:00 a.m. Pacific), Claire Meyerhoff and I will be hosting another live edition of Magic Keys Radio and we’ll be talking about how to write good donor profiles. You can listen live and call/chat in your questions or you can download the podcast (an MP3 recording) right after the show ends.

Published On: May 21, 2009|Categories: Nonprofit Marketing Trends, Storytelling, Writing Skills and Content|