Fairmount InSights

I heard Toni Morrison speak at last night’s opening of the First Person Arts Festival. She compared the relationship between a novel’s character and the reader to the call and response in an African-American church. It’s a conversation.

The character doesn’t preach, s/he invites the reader to bring his/her imagination to the story. Rather than explicitly describe a situation, power lies in suggestion.  The reader’s imagination fills in the blanks from his/her own experience, strengthening its meaning and impact. Morrison trusts her reader to be smart.

Apply this to fundraising.  A case statement or appeal letter needs to invite the reader to be an active participant, to bring his/her experience and feelings to the request. Sure, there should be facts, evidence based practices and outcomes, but a two way conversation is more engaging.  Even if the reader’s life experience is very different from the people to be served, it is important for the reader to see and feel their inner life.

How to do this? Use your imagination.