Effective openings to fundraising messages

Yesterday we talked about some ineffective openings to fundraising letters. It’s only fair that we take a look at some effective openings today.

Tell a story. If you’ve got a dynamite story that really makes the case for your offer, just start right in with the story, using a killer opening like you’d see in a mystery story: Lolita knew something was terribly wrong the minute she saw Mr. Humbert.

Trumpet the offer. If your fundraising offer is something irresistible — a great deal, or something that gives the donor a lot of impact — that’s a great way to start: Every dollar you give today will be tripled to help hungry children. It’s not only a great opening, it’s a great way to spend nearly your entire message.

Talk about the donor. Since the topic of effective fundraising is the donor, this is a great way to start. Tell the donor something about herself that you know and admire. Like I know you care about our great broad-leafed urban trees. (You know this because she’s given generously to protect them.)


Comments

4 responses to “Effective openings to fundraising messages”

  1. Dear Jeff,
    Thank you for writing about what to do, versus what not to do. I think sometimes this is more useful.
    I would add, don’t just say, “I know you care about our trees.” Say, “Thank you for giving $20 last year to help the trees.” Show that you know not only that they care, but that you’re keeping track of their level of giving.
    DonorPerfect allows you to put in this kind of data fairly easily, but it should be fairly reasonable to do it even with just Excel, with a knowledge of how CSV files and custom mailmerge fields work in Microsoft Word.
    Sincerely,
    Mazarine
    http://wildwomanfundraising.com

  2. Dear Jeff,
    Thank you for writing about what to do, versus what not to do. I think sometimes this is more useful.
    I would add, don’t just say, “I know you care about our trees.” Say, “Thank you for giving $20 last year to help the trees.” Show that you know not only that they care, but that you’re keeping track of their level of giving.
    DonorPerfect allows you to put in this kind of data fairly easily, but it should be fairly reasonable to do it even with just Excel, with a knowledge of how CSV files and custom mailmerge fields work in Microsoft Word.
    Sincerely,
    Mazarine
    http://wildwomanfundraising.com

  3. margie Avatar

    Are these kinds of openings to be used with current major donors, prospects, or direct mail or indivual smaller donors you don’t know as well? Please be more nuanced in your response and examples. Thanks, Margie

  4. margie Avatar

    Are these kinds of openings to be used with current major donors, prospects, or direct mail or indivual smaller donors you don’t know as well? Please be more nuanced in your response and examples. Thanks, Margie

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog