Challenge: Write a fundraising letter that’s really about the donor

I want to point out a story told by my podcasting partner Steven Screen in a recent podcast:

In an appeal letter Steven wrote (and I creative-directed) that won an award (I’m required to make that phrase bold) and also raised a lot of money, he later noticed something interesting about the letter itself:

It didn’t mention the name of the organization. Not even once.

Now don’t think donors couldn’t tell who sent the letter. The organization’s name and logo were all over the package, from the outer envelope to the reply coupon, and including the letterhead. It just wasn’t in the text of the letter.

Why? Because the letter was about the donor. Not the organization. It was all about what the donor could do by sending her gift. Why she should do so. How doing so would change the world. How good it would feel to put her values to work.

Not: Look at our awesome programs. We are the greatest. Climb onto our bandwagon, because we are effective and wonderful.

That’s the way to raise funds (and sometimes win awards). You write to donors about themselves. Not yourself.

So here’s a challenge: Do what Steven did. Write an entire fundraising letter (or email) without saying the name of your organization at all.

You just might be amazed by the results.


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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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