Keep it Simple. Keep it Friendly.

in Copywriting - Nonprofit

Today I share a collection of tips to make your fundraising appeals – direct mail or email – a whole lot more effective.

And in keeping with the spirit of the title, I’ll stick to the points and not pontificate:

Speak (I mean out loud) what you want to write. Then write what you said; how you said it.

Define the purpose of the appeal; the goal

Write the P.S. first – your offer

Don’t be a nit-pick grammarian. (Read the first bullet again)

Lose the jargon

It’s NOT about your nonprofit

Hero of your mission is the donor or member. Make this clear in your copy.

Have plenty of white space – yes, even in email

Use a larger font, and one that’s easy to read

Black (not gray) colored font on white background is the easiest to read; body of your copy ought to be black on white

Short sentences. Short paragraphs.

Letters should not look like a business letter. Indent paragraphs. Do not justify margins.

Highlight key passages (bold; italics; or underlining depending on the channel)

Write reader-centric copy

Tell a great story – master this art

Clear call-to-action

Don’t ramble

Use emotion, passion, and opinions

Write for skimmers

Employ direct response principles

Use a warm, friendly tone

Show how donors make a difference

Concepts seem simple; yet few can do them well. That’s your challenge.

Related posts:

Bore your nonprofit readers in 11 different ways

2 Fundamentals of a Strong Fundraising Appeal

5 Most Common Mistakes in Fundraising Copy

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Pamela Grow May 6, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Love your comment to write the PS first! I’ve taken it a step further and written the thank you letter first :).

Karen Zapp, copywriter May 9, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Hi Pamela,

Yes, the P.S. is quite important.

And to expand on the point . . . I write it first because the P.S. summarizes the entire letter. It is the longer version – if you will – of the reply device.

When the P.S. is clear, well-written, and infused with emotion . . . writing the email or the direct mail letter is easier (note that I said “easier” and not “easy). It gives direction to the letter / email and your writing has more focus and a clear purpose. The odds are that your first draft will be stronger and require less editing when the P.S. is written first, followed by the reply device, and then the lead (envelope teaser or email subject line falls in here too).

I find this approach the most successful.

And in contrast to your approach, I deliberately write the “thank you letter” LAST. (Smile)

Why? Because I want all the emotion from the letter or email expressed. I want to personally feel everything there is to feel before I acknowledge gratitude for the donor’s generosity and compassion. This approach results in a more personalized and emotional thank you letter. But again, that’s what works for me when writing fundraising copy.

Thanks for weighing in on the topic, Pamela!

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