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Welcome to another issue of Whiteboard Wednesday. Here in Nashville, the leaves haven’t started changing yet, and it’s still warm and slightly less humid (thanks, southern weather patterns), but Starbucks has the pumpkin spice latte out, so I guess we’ll call it fall.
Live pic of Dave Kirby, noted Fall enthusiast
Whether the temps have dropped or it’s still muggy, we have an awesome issue of Whiteboard Wednesday for you, including a guest article from Matt Elkins showing you how to harness the power of ChatGPT in your script writing..
So grab your throw blanket (or crank up the AC), your pumpkin spice treats, and your reading glasses, and let’s get cozy….
by Dave Kirby email@example.com
I’m going to give it to you straight.
Giving is down. The number of people giving is down. The amount they are giving is down.
That’s not my opinion, although we have seen it bear out in the real world in the last year or so.
Two years of data—from 2021 and 2022—released by the IRS in June revealed “a decline in the number of American households that give, with an even sharper slope in decline for religious giving,” says Michael Thatcher, president and CEO of New Jersey-based Charity Navigator.
A report from Giving USA showed giving in 2022 declined 3.4% from 2021, only the fourth such decline in 40 years. And the number of American households that give to charity has now sunk below 50%.
So, Sunshine Dave™, what am I to do with this bad news?
Well, first and foremost, remember Who is ultimately responsible for your fundraising efforts, and know you can trust Him.
But let me bring a little perspective. Ok, giving declined by 3.4%. But that means 96.6% of those who were giving still are. The pie has gotten a little smaller, but there’s still lots of tasty goodness left.
Partially, I think we are seeing the natural regression from the all-time giving highs during the pandemic. We’re floating back down to earth.
One reason for the reduction in the number of households who give is because of the 2017 change in the U.S. tax code, which nearly doubled the standard deduction, meaning some people no longer get the tax benefits of giving. So it’s not that they can’t afford to give, just that they are not as motivated because of the tax implications.
So…bottom line…the sky is not falling.
Also bottom line…we’d better not be lazy!
When people are tightening their belts, that’s the time for us to buckle down on our relationship with our donors. Reach out. Pray for them. Let them know you care. Remind them of the impact their donations are making. Tell them such emotional, powerful stories that they’ll want to give you more, not less.
On a practical note, take a look at your data and let it help you adjust.
By Matt Elkins firstname.lastname@example.org
Connecting deeply with people and talking just like they talk – that’s the ideal we pursue in writing any radio script, including fundraising. The hurdles along the way can be many.
For this year’s fall fundraiser at Family Life Radio, we tried something new – we tapped into ChatGPT, a super smart AI. It was a first for us, but once we understood how it works, it sparked our imagination and shook us into seeing our audience through a fresh perspective. A LOT of trial and error was involved, but it was worth the time spent.
It was basically a two-step process.
Step one: We asked ChatGPT to tell us what's going on in the listener’s world right now. We took those nuggets and wove them into the first drafts of our scripts.
Step two: we asked ChatGPT to restate our scripts from the perspective of a 35-year-old female with only a high school education.
And we bugged ChatGPT a lot, asking questions in all sorts of ways (it’s called “prompt engineering”) until we got fresh takes on the messaging that surprised us and made us see things differently. We were on a mission to break out of our usual thinking and connect with our listeners in a fresh way.
Here are some specifics about our process.
Insights into her world today
I asked ChatGPT this question (inspired by one of Vidare’s recent blogs):
“Give me five reasons why a great story alone won't motivate people to respond.”
It gave me a bunch of reasons, but they were pretty scientific (things like “information overload,” “digital fatigue and disconnection,” and “desensitization to emotional appeals”). So, I went at it from a different angle. I asked ChatGPT:
“What are some social reasons in our society today why this may be true?”
And bam! ChatGPT told me why. It turns out people are swamped with info, tired of screens, and kind of numb to emotional stuff. But, the information was still kind of theoretical. So, I revised my prompts to restate those results in her language.
“Restate each of these reasons as a conversational statement spoken by a 30-year-old female who has only a high school education. Keep each statement short, only one sentence, no more than 20 words. Express some passion and give real-life examples.”
I repeatedly revised my prompts and the listener profile to get responses that were passionate and real. Here’s a sample of the responses:
Armed with this treasure trove of insights, I summarized what's up with our listeners today (Remember: this is all in my notes; I haven’t started scripting yet):
"Life's overloaded; nothing feels vital. Most media's just empty chatter."
So, that’s the problem. Now, the solution: we used ChatGPT to cook up listener statements that portrayed how Family Life Radio serves them in a completely opposite way compared to the culture:
The final scripting process
The final step was crafting the scripts. We tapped into those statements, using some phrases word for word and some as simply inspiration. Then, we ran our first drafts through ChatGPT to make them even more conversational (because we all have the tendency to write from the station’s perspective).
Here’s one of the final scripts:
YOUNG FEMALE VO: SO, I'M TOTALLY HOOKED ON THREE – NO WAIT, FOUR STREAMING CHANNELS. I KNOW, IT'S A LOT OF TV – IT’S REALLY BEEN MY ESCAPE – AND HONESTLY, WHEN I THINK ABOUT IT, IT’S KIND OF A WASTE OF TIME. BUT, RECENTLY, I HEARD THIS AMAZING STORY THAT'S TOTALLY DIFFERENT. IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED AND IT'S SUPER ENCOURAGING!
ACTUAL LISTENER AUDIO: MY HUSBAND WAS DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER, AND I HAD LOST MY JOB AT THE SAME TIME AND DIDN'T KNOW HOW I WAS GONNA MAKE IT THROUGH. I FOUND FAMILY LIFE RADIO AND IT MADE ME REALIZE THAT GOD IS IN CONTROL AND EVERYTHING IS GONNA BE OKAY.
YOUNG FEMALE VO: THE STORIES AND THE MUSIC ON FAMILY LIFE RADIO ARE SO POWERFUL BECAUSE THEY’RE UNLIKE ANYTHING ELSE OUT THERE. THEY CONNECT US TO GOD AND HE GIVES US REAL ANSWERS TO LIFE’S PROBLEMS.
MALE VO: [PITCH TO GIVE TO SHARATHON]
If you can easily write from the listener’s perspective every time you sit in front of your computer, then you’re marvelously gifted. For the rest of us, ChatGPT may be a tool that can spark our imaginations and put new life into our fundraising.
AI is not going to replace scriptwriters, but it can be a valuable resource if used intentionally
I put this entire article through ChatGPT, asking it:
“Reduce this article to a simpler presentation of the process documented, combine similar ideas, keep the emotion expressed, and make it more conversational.”
I didn’t use the ChatGPT version word for word, but did borrow some statements I liked.
I copied the lyrics to one of our most popular songs into ChatGPT and asked it:
“Restate this text as a simple story by a 30-year-old female. Eliminate repetitious words. Keep it conversational, passionate, street-wise.”
Try it, and you’ll be amazed at what you’ll get back.
The end of the year is quickly approaching, and it’s never too early to start planning for that incredibly important month of December fundraising. Here are three things you can do TODAY to start planning:
The fact that you read past the first sentence of this newsletter is amazing. That you made it to the end is unbelievable. Thanks so much for reading this issue of Whiteboard Wednesday.
As always, a quick 👍🏻 would be appreciated. Unless you didn’t like it. Then an honest 🤮 would make sense.
Either way, we’re grateful for you!
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