The man who helped us get smart about direct-response fundraising

Professor Siegfried Vögele: May his memory be everlasting.

Who is Professor Siegfried Vögele, you ask?

You might call him the Albert Einstein of direct mail. He revolutionized the way we understand how people interact with the stuff we send them by actually watching and recording what they did.

Siegfried-Voegele-150x150

Vögele died last March. Word of his passing has only recently been filtering through the Direct Mail Nerd community.

Here’s one of Vögele’s classic discoveries. The way people look at a direct mail letter typically goes like this:


  1. Check who was writing to them.
  2. Look for their own name as the addressee.
  3. Go to the end and see who signed it.
  4. Read the P.S.
  5. Maybe skim the letter.

Not in the logical, sequential order you might assume.

This revolutionized fundraising writing for me. I stopped trying to make complex cases that started with the first line of the letter and built their way to the end. Now I try to write them so the reader can bounce around in any random order and get the point. And make sure there’s a strong P.S. that says the one thing you want to say. Because it might well be the only thing they read.

Thank you, Professor Vögele. We’ve raised a lot more money because of your research.

Read this excellent tribute at Critical Fundraising: The forgotten man of direct marketing fundraising?.

Vögele’s main book, Handbook Of Direct Mail: The Dialogue Method Of Direct Communication, is out of print and only available used (and very expensive).


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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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