10 ways to give your fundraising appeal superpowers

Here are some great tips for improving fundraising messages, from Clairification, at Top 10 Fundraising Appeal Writing Tips:

  1. Begin with drama and get right to the point. Don’t spend a paragraph or three introducing yourself and thanking the donor for the past giving. (Save that for the end of the letter.) PRO TIP: Your first few paragraphs of your first draft are probably garbage that you need to cut. Not just you: Everybody.

  2. Lead with easy to read, understandable copy and design. Good reading ease score, large serif font, black type against white background.

  3. Use a conversational tone; understand donors are asking questions right off the bat. This is conversation, not a presentation.

  4. Ask directly two to three times. At least! Donors skim, so the more times you ask, the better likelihood they’ll notice an ask.

  5. Avoid jargon like the plague. Jargon is a way for professionals to talk to each other. It excludes everyone else. Don’t exclude your donors from the conversation that’s specifically with them.

  6. Talk about outcomes, not processes. Your processes are vitally important. But that’s not what donors care about. They want to make something happen. Focus on that!

  7. Give a compelling reason to give today. If they don’t give right away, they probably won’t give at all. Make it urgent. (And don’t talk about your past successes. That’s anti-urgent!)

  8. Flatter the donor; assume the best. Talk to donors like they are dedicated supporters who love your cause and want to make a difference. Sure, some people aren’t that at all. But you aren’t talking to them. (And they aren’t listening anyway.)

  9. Make the donor feel the appeal is about them. This is the hard part. People give for reasons of their own. Those reasons may not be the same as yours. And they’ll certainly be less detailed and educated than your reasons.

  10. Tell the donor specifically what it costs to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. Ask for specific amounts, and and be clear what those amounts do.


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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.