5 ways to keep your readers paying attention

The hard part of fundraising is being interesting enough to keep readers involved. If you can get attention — and keep it — your chance of getting a donation skyrockets.

Here are some attention tips from Clairification, at Top 5 Nonprofit Attention-Grabbers:

  1. Stop writing about “us and our stuff.” Your donors really don’t care about that. They just want to know if they can make the world a better place by giving to you. All your content about your org is a waste of their time — or worse, a warning not to give.
  2. Hit return more often. Long paragraphs are basically a warning sign that says: “Don’t bother to read. To dense, complex, and uninteresting. My personal rule is the longest allowable paragraph is six lines. And those should be rare. Most paragraphs should be one to four lines long. (This means you need to think differently about paragraphs than your English teacher taught you.)
  3. Don’t stop at the subject line. Subject lines are the most important element of email effectiveness. But not the only one. There’s the sender and preview pane. There’s the way the email is designed. There’s the number and type of links.
  4. Make it a metaphor. Simple, apt metaphors can make even complex ideas understandable and easy. And don’t shy away from “cliche” metaphors (like “She knew it like the back of her hand” they’re overused because people understand them).
  5. Steal a tip from The New York Times. The tip: the average length of a quote in The Times is 7 words. Long quotations keep readers away.


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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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