Effective openings to fundraising messages

Here are some good was to start your fundraising letters.

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.)

(This post was first published on June 3, 2010)


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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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