The power of mystery for raising funds online and off

Mystery is one of the most important (and under-used) tools for us in fundraising. It’s the most dependable way to get people’s attention.

Email subject lines are a real laboratory for ways to grab attention. So are direct mail outer envelopes.

Get those two things right — which most of the time means creating a tantalizing mystery — and you will raise more funds.

Here’s a great thought on mystery from the Monday Morning Memo, at How to Get and Hold Attention:

When your subject lines harbor mysteries, you’ll see your open rate rise like the sun on Easter morning. And if you solve that mystery just as you introduce a second one, you will have achieved engagement.

We humans are drawn to mysteries. When we don’t know what’s going on, we feel compelled to find out. That’s why a subject line like this is unlikely to get a decent open rate:

Children Are Hungry – You Can Save Them with Your Donation Today

No mystery. No need to click and see what’s inside.

Instead, try something that only hints at what they’ll see when they click or open your envelope. Like:

DO NOT BEND

We often think the work we’re “selling” is so important and compelling that people will open it just because it’s there.

Not true for most of them and in most cases! (There are exceptions to this, but they are rare.)

Stick with mystery, and you’ll do a lot better.


Comments

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

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.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

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.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

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.

Recent Comments

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.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog