How to write for both of your fundraising audiences

How do you read your own fundraising letters?

You probably start at the beginning and read every word until you reach the end.

That’s the way one reads when one is being paid to read, or when one is very interested in the contents.

That’s not how most people read your fundraising letters. Sorry.

They skim. Glance. Bounce quickly through.

Are you creating messages that work for those readers, or are you writing for that tiny majority who read the way you do?

The smart way is to write Two Letters in One, says the Better Fundraising Blog.

Write a letter that works for both methodical readers and for skimmers.

But here’s the weird thing: When you write the “skimmer” version, you’ve also written the “reader” version. Here’s a guide to the skimmer version:

  • The top-center or top-right corner of the letter contains a short blurb about the Need or about what the donor’s gift will do to help.
  • The first three-ish paragraphs tend to summarize the whole letter. They share why the donor’s gift is needed, what the donor’s gift will accomplish, and ask the reader to send in a gift today.
  • The middle section of the letter shares more details, perhaps shares a story that illustrates the need for the donor to take action.
  • The last couple of paragraphs tend to repeat what was said in the first three paragraphs.

The only thing “wrong” with it for the e very-word readers is that it’s repetitive. But that’s not going to turn those readers away. Because even the most methodical of readers isn’t paying attention to structure. The only people doing that are English teachers … and you.

When you want to get your message across, write for skimmers.

That’s the same as writing for everyone.


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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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