5 assumptions to make about your readers

  1. They skim. You must craft every sentence with great care. But your readers are going to tear through it like a bargain-hunter at a flea market. Make it easy for skimmers to catch the most important stuff: Short paragraphs, short sentences, underlining.
  2. They don’t read everything. We know that many readers go straight to the P.S. of a letter. Make sure it includes the call to action. And make sure the call to action is sprinkled throughout the copy.
  3. They don’t read in order. They bounce around, stopping wherever their eyes rest. So don’t make your case dependent on an elegant build of logic, with each point depending on those before it. And make sure there’s a call to action nearby no matter where they alight.
  4. They don’t pay close attention. Chances are your readers are doing something else while reading: talking to someone, watching TV, whatever. You don’t have their full attention. Keep it simple. Absolutely, unmistakably clear what you want them to do.
  5. They’ll look at images more than at copy. If there’s an image on any page along with copy, it will draw eyeballs away from the copy. That’s why you shouldn’t use images for the sake of using images. If an image tells the same story as the copy, it’s good. If it’s ambiguous or not clearly connected, it’s worse than no image at all.

(This post first appeared on June 10, 2011.)


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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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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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