Ask the right questions before you write, and your fundraising will work better — and take less time

Most of the work that makes any fundraising project effective happens before you write a single word.

It’s the questions you ask and answer about the people you’re talking to and what it is you want them to do. When you have this stuff really nailed down — the writing is almost easy. And you prevent the wandering that causes so many projects to fail — or at least take a lot more time than they need to.

Here are a whole bunch of the questions you should ask and then answer before you start writing your next fundraising project, from Nonprofit Hub at Pre-Writing Exercise to Increase Responses from Your Next Appeal:

  • Who is your reader?
  • What do the people you’re writing to have in common?
  • What makes them different from the rest of the world?
  • How do these people feel about the world?
  • How do these people feel about themselves?
  • How well do they know your organization?
  • How well do they know your cause?
  • What don’t they know about you and your cause?
  • What makes you believe they would give to you as opposed to another charity?
  • What’s your call to action?
  • What will satisfy the story they’re telling themselves about who they are and where they fit into this world?
  • Will they be the hero if they give to you?
  • Why should your reader respond NOW?
  • Why are you sending this appeal now instead of another time?

Sometimes asking these before-the-real-work questions can feel like spinning your wheels. It’s not. Every hour you spend productively pursuing these things will save you at least four hours later on. And you will raise more money.


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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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