10 ways to make your direct mail stronger

Worried about your latest direct mail appeal?

That’s okay. You may find some inspiration here from this post at Clairification: Top 10 Fundraising Appeal Writing Tips.

Here are the tips:

  1. Begin with drama and get right to the point. Don’t “warm up” the way we do in conversation.
  2. Lead with easy to read, understandable copy and design. Ease of reading is one of the main things that gets and keeps reader engaged. Use readable and larger-than-you-think fonts. Black type against white. Short paragraphs. Wide margins. Plenty of underlining, bold, italic, and other things that break up the gray.
  3. Use a conversational tone; understand donors are asking questions right off the bat. Don’t lecture. Talk. Answer their questions.
  4. Ask directly two to three times. One ask buried near the end of your letter is pretty much the same as not asking at all. My rule ask ask once or twice per page.
  5. Avoid jargon like the plague. If you’re not sure whether a word is jargon or not, it is. Get a reality check about your writing from non-experts. You’d be surprised how often one can unknowingly use insider or professional jargon, leaving donors out in the cold.
  6. Talk about outcomes, not processes. Donors aren’t giving to fund your processes. They give to make things happen. Your processes are important. But not to your donors.
  7. Give a compelling reason to give today. If there’s no reason to give right now, there’s essentially no reason to give at all.
  8. Flatter the donor; assume the best. Your donors care and are generous. They might not care in the right way, and they might not be as generous as they should be … but you don’t know that about them. Attribute the best and highest motives and virtues to your donors.
  9. Make the donor feel the appeal is about them. Put some action in front of them — something they can do to make the world a better place. In their personal story, they are not a minor bit player in the story of your organization. To them, you’re the bit player in the adventure of their life.
  10. Tell the donor specifically what it costs to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. Fundraising is always about problems and donor-sized solutions. Keep to that simple formula.


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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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