Your New Year’s resolution: get on with your bloody legacy campaign before it is too late and so are your prospects. And you can also win a prize – see below!
The biggest bugbear in legacy giving is inaction. Intentions are great with 1 in 3 donors saying they WILL do it, actual action is not great.
So if there was a reason for a new year’s resolution, may be it is this: to inject some urgency and emotion into communications and to start swearing at everyone.
Why? Because swearing is good for you. This is supported universally in research papers from Persia, USA Canada, Australia and UK. And it was the research by the scientist and journalist Emma Byrne (read her book “Why swearing is good for you”) which set light to my imagination
To summarise Dr Richard Stephens, from the University of Keele who led two research projects into swearing, he says: “We know from our earlier research that swearing makes people more able to tolerate pain. A possible reason for this is that it stimulates the body’s sympathetic nervous system – that’s the system that makes your heart pound when you are in danger. But swearing also makes you physically and mentally stronger.”
Swearing, it turns out, is an incredibly useful part of our linguistic repertoire. Not only has some form of swearing existed since the earliest humans began to communicate, but it has been shown to reduce physical pain, help stroke victims recover their language, and encourage people to work together as a team.
Steven Pinker, a Canadian born American and cognitive psychologist at Harvard University says there are five possible functions of swearing:
- Abusive swearing, intended to offend, intimidate or otherwise cause emotional or psychological harm
- Cathartic swearing, used in response to pain or misfortune
- Dysphemistic swearing, used to convey that the speaker thinks negatively of the subject matter, and to make the listener do the same
- Emphatic swearing, intended to draw additional attention to what is considered to be worth paying attention to
- Idiomatic swearing, used for no other particular purpose, but as a sign that the conversation and relationship between speaker and listener is informal
It is emphatic swearing I am interested in. PLEASE note I consider nothing clever about abusing prospects! Also, face to face idiomatic swearing could play a role.
Making a Will is a bloody brilliant act of responsibility which gives peace of mind and immense satisfaction.
Leaving a legacy is not only painless (even cost free), but also leaves a feeling of real goodness and passing on our values and valuables to future generations.
The biggest bloody problem (or to use my father’s only swear word: “ruddy” – a euphemism of bloody) is how can we get:
- Trustees to act and invest in legacies
- Get staff and volunteers behind us
- And get prospects to spring urgently into bloody action and talk about Wills and legacies.
Who should do the swearing?
For instance, would it be good for a solicitor to say:
“Only bloody fools die without a Will. Do it now, it’s so easy”. Bloody fool, or idiot, is a favourite expression used by 70+ year olds.
Or a pledger saying: “Until recently I was a total prat. I had not done my Will because I thought it can wait another day. But it was a hell of a lot easier to do than I ever imagined. And I have done it before I get to heaven”. (NB I always thought prat was spelt pratt but the latter means “buttocks”, rather than prat which means idiot).
Or a trustee saying: “The whole idea of writing a Will was, in my view, shit. It meant I was going to die. But it wasn’t shit – it was an immense pleasure and I have left a gift in my Will to my charity – bloody brilliant.”
Or “Do not be a knucklehead. Knuckle down and do your Will NOW”
Or you as a fundraiser should be say “A gift in a Will? It is so damned easy and can be as little as 1% so your family get 99%”. Or “your family will be damned unhappy if you died without a Will and left a trail of family arguments after you have gone”
There seem to be more abusive words for “idiot” than virtually any other word and some are glorious others definitely not! But if you do not have a Will you could be considered:
fool · ass · asshole – halfwit · nincompoop · blockhead · dunce · dolt · ignoramus · cretin · imbecile · dullard · moron · simpleton · clod · dope · ninny · chump · dimwit · goon · dumbo · dummy · dum-dum · dumb-bell · loon · dork · jackass · bonehead · fathead · numbskull · dunderhead · chucklehead · knucklehead · muttonhead · pudding-head · thickhead · wooden-head · airhead · pinhead · lamebrain · pea-brain · birdbrain · zombie · jerk · nerd · dipstick · donkey · noodle · nit · nitwit · twit · numpty · clot · plonker · berk · prat · pillock · wally · git · wazzock · divvy · nerk · twerp · twonk · charlie · mug · muppet · nyaff · balloon · sumph · gowk · gobdaw · schmuck · bozo · boob · lamer · turkey · schlepper · chowderhead · dumbhead · goofball · goof · goofus · galoot · lummox · klutz · putz · schlemiel · sap · gink · cluck · clunk · ding-dong · dingbat · wiener · weeny · dip · simp · spud · coot · palooka · poop · squarehead · yo-yo · dingleberry · wing nut · drongo · dill · alec · galah · nong · bogan · poon · boofhead · mompara · tomfool · noddy · clodpole · loggerhead · spoony · mooncalf
Which ones could feature in a legacy campaign? Or should none of them?
Where are you swearing?
Different words are possibly suitable in different channels. Older generations of Brits are happier with: bloody, hell, damn, prat, plonker. And in some cultures blasphemy is common and overused – such as “Jesus Christ” – it just slips out in a meaningless way. Spoken swear words have a different impact than written swear words.
Swearing on Facebook is massive. According to an analysis by Slate (a global research company focusing on communications), in a three-day period on Facebook in the USA, shit appeared in 10.5 million times, f*ck in 9.5 million, damn in 6.3 million, and crap in 2 million.
Twitter: Work by researchers at Wright State University in Ohio has found that 34.7% of all the swearwords in their sample of 51m tweets were “f*ck” or one of its long list of cognates followed by “shit”.
I am NOT advocating using f*ck (I still cannot make myself type the whole word even though it was said 506 times in the film “The Wolf of Wall Street”).
But the RIGHT use of swear words to the RIGHT audience might well produce a greater sense of urgency and a more “Can Do” state of mind as the emotions spring into action.
The only campaign I know of using a swear word is the now famous Greenpeace campaign: “when you come back as a whale you’ll bloody glad you put Greenpeace in your Will”. This was a laugh but lacked credibility.
Or should we just keep to humour or a light touch? So now it is competition time and there is a prize for the winning answers:
- to draft the best sentence with a swear word in a legacy campaign
- to draft the best limerick/poem about Wills and/or legacy giving
You must give reasons for why you prefer to use a swear word or a poem etc. But we need to dare to be strong to make action happen
Answers to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The winners get a copy of Emma Byrne’s book “Why swearing is good for you”.
To start you off I enrolled the help of my talented wife Zoe – a brilliant fundraiser, strategist and poet (let alone amazing Mum etc)
Thinking of family and friends
in your Will helps to tie up loose ends
Sharing out things such as jewellery and rings
Can bring pleasure and help make amends
One day I must make a Will
Even though I never feel ill
If I wait till tomorrow
it will only bring sorrow
if I am hit by a bus and get killed
Andrew loved to procrastinate
which meant everything ended up late
When he got very ill and died with no Will
The taxman became his best mate
I hope you all have a bloody amazing 2018 and get on with your sodding legacy campaign.