13 tips for stronger fundraising

Here’s some great help for fundraising writers from Pamela Grow’s Blog, at 13 Ways to Write Better Fundraising Asks:

  1. Know your audience. Know the people you’re asking. Be clear about their demographics. And what’s in their heads and hearts. Big hint: They are not you! If you create fundraising that seems persuasive to you, you are likely missing them!
  2. Find your best story. Powerful stories that show the problem you’re asking the donor to solve are a key ingredient. Find and tell stories. (And a story that’s about a problem that’s already been solved — that’s probably not the one you need.
  3. Let emotion rule. If you are using facts and statistics to make the case, you are not doing your best work. Appeal to the heart.
  4. Write music. Write so it’s easy, even pleasurable to read. That means it’s rhythmic, with varying sentence length, and it sounds good. The best way to know if you’re doing that or not: Read your stuff out loud. If it sounds clunky, you’ll notice. If you stumble, that’s usually a sign that it’s awkward.
  5. Infuse your letter with gratitude.
  6. Put your donor in the picture. Fundraising is not a story about an awesome organization that’s doing amazing stuff and hopes to recruit helpers to fund the awesomeness. Fundraising is a story about how a donor can put her values into action via an organization. Fundraising is all about donors.
  7. Ask. Early and often. And directly. Don’t hint around and talk about “partnering with us” when you mean “give.” And a fundraising message that doesn’t have a direct and clear ask at least three times is missing the mark.
  8. “How long should my letter be?” Short answer: Probably longer. Longer fundraising messages usually do better. If you are struggling to squeeze your direct mail onto a single page, you are probably killing response.
  9. One writer. Writing by committee is guaranteed to produce a nasty, incoherent brew that won’t raise much money!
  10. Outline it. It really helps to start your message with an outline. That helps assure that you get to all the things you need to get to — most importantly asking several times.
  11. Swipe. Pay attention to what other fundraisers are doing. And steal smart. That’s what the pros do.
  12. KISS
    Keep it simple, sweetheart.

  13. Write drunk. Edit sober. Don’t literally write while you’re drunk. That doesn’t work, despite what Hemingway claimed. (Believe me, I know.) But write quickly, adventurously, even sloppily, not worrying about mistakes, grammar, even logic. Then go back and fix it.


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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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