The common fundraising paragraph that turns away donors

I’m going to show you a paragraph from a direct mail appeal that directly harms the effectiveness of the piece it’s in.

You might say, I see paragraphs like that in fundraising constantly!

And you’d be right.

You also might say It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to say.

You’d be right about that too.

But this paragraph — and its thousands of cousins that litter fundraising messages everywhere — is not really fundraising. You could call it unfundraising. (It doesn’t quite sink to the level of Fundcrushing though.)

Here’s the paragraph:

Thanks to your generous support, our work has impacted more than 18 million people in the past 12 months. Thanks to the generous gifts from people like you, our programs are helping more people around the world than ever before — and for that I again thank you!

I think you’ll agree with me that most direct mail and digital fundraising these days includes something like this in it.

It’s a perfectly nice paragraph that says perfectly nice things. So what’s the problem?

Three things:

  1. It majors on big numbers. Which shut down compassion. Automatically.
  2. While thanking the reader, it’s also bragging about the organization. That lessens motivation too.
  3. It’s not about the problem they’re asking the donor to solve today. It’s about things that are already taken care of. That’s nice — but it’s not the topic of the fundraising message, which means it’s at best a speed bump on the road to response.

You should be saying things like this to your donors. (With more emphasis on story and less on numbers.) But it belongs in your newsletter or other reporting and thanking messages — not in your fundraising messages. Unless you prefer less response.


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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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