From your heart to theirs
Colloquialism — just a big fancy word for not using big fancy words.
Forget about perfect college-paper composition when you’re writing a letter to your donors.
Write from your heart.
Fancy, stilted, or sophisticated language may be appropriate for highbrow academic articles and books, but when you send a letter:
- Ideally, set the text in a plain typewriter-like font (courier new), so it has more of a personal-letter feel and less of an official-communication feel;
- include a P.S., maybe even make it handwritten;
- say what you really mean;
- and say it how you feel it.
Make sure your emails are simple and straightforward, too.
If your organization employs an editor who keeps formalizing your letters or digital communications for the sake of your public image, “fire” the editor and open your heart to your donors. Because they’re your friends.
Speaking plain English is more of a problem in ministries today than you might imagine. Many ministry principals want to be regarded as sophisticated; others surround themselves with staffers who want the principal to be regarded as sophisticated.
Some ministry leaders and workers simply make the common error of switching to formal English whenever they move from the spoken word to the written. An individual who can carry on a warm face-to-face conversation with you suddenly turns into a stuffy corporate accountant when he writes you a letter or email.
In the scriptural record, Jesus never wrote anything down — never turned anything into a formal business letter. His message was communicated strictly by word of mouth — and He spoke Aramaic, the plain-English equivalent of His day. He “put the cookies on the bottom shelf,” easily accessible to the common people. So should we.