How to get the most out of an expert’s opinion on your fundraising

So you talked some fundraising expert into taking a look at your fundraising project. Nice?

Did you send the expert just the direct mail letter or email message?

If so, the expert can’t help you much.

Direct mail is never just a letter. It’s an envelope carrying a few things, each having some impact on the effectiveness of the piece:

  • The carrier envelope is the most important. If it doesn’t entice people to open it, it doesn’t matter how powerful your letter is. The pack will fail.
  • The reply device is the active ingredient. It has to be just as brilliant (and with far fewer words) as the letter.
  • Any other elements could be helping or hurting. They all matter.

The letter alone doesn’t tell the whole story. Asking your expert to look at the letter only is like asking her to look only at the seats of your car — and then tell you whether the car is ready to drive across the country.

To be fair, if the letter is a hot mess, the rest almost surely is too. So your expert may get enough info from the letter alone to give you good advice.

But don’t count on it. You could have the greatest letter ever written … and still fail, because of problems with the rest of the project.

It’s the same with digital fundraising.

The donor doesn’t interact with a free-floating letter. They deal with the whole thing. That’s what you need to show your expert. And spend your time and energy on the whole project.


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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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