I have never considered myself a grammar expert. However, the frequently asked question of should we write in the first or third person when working on an application to a trust or foundation, came up yet again recently.
“Should we use ‘The charity supports etc. etc.’ or should we use ‘We support etc. etc.’?”
This was asked during the Fundraising Applications course I ran recently. Indeed, over my 20 years in the charity sector, the trend seems to have gone one way and then the other with both first and third person going in and out of fashion.
While I have used both first and third person in the past, I don’t think my feeling and my preference has ever really changed. My reasoning goes back to the very fundamentals of fundraising and what fundraising means for me.
Fundraising (and that is all methods of fundraising), is about relationships, trust, confidence, and belief – and of course money. The key word for me here is relationships. It is common to think of a grant-giving trust as a faceless, emotionless organisation. But no, my days in major donor fundraising taught me that all trust boards are made up of people. Individual people, with emotions and their likes and dislikes. These are the people that you are writing to when you send a trust application. These are the people who will be sifting through the applications to pick the most outstanding ones. You want your application to reach out and touch each trustee reading it. It needs to be a page-turner. There needs to be an emotive element to your ask for support.
Furthermore, when you want to say what your organisation does, let’s not forget the organisation does not do it, people do it. Both your staff and volunteers.
I believe it is much stronger to talk person to person, not organisation to organisation. So, for me, I am and always will a person who prefers to talk to the person.
I am a ‘first person’ person!