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Resources – Newsletter Archive

April, 2006

Welcome to the premier issue of "Karen's Fundraising Tips Newsletter." On the second Tuesday of each month (yes, the premier issue is an exception) I'll share tips, news items, and resources all tailored for the non-profit world and folks directly responsible for raising funds.

My goal is to make your job a little easier and to help you increase your donor contributions. I also intend to write a newsletter that you can read in three to five minutes — tops.

When chatting with clients and prospects, I ask if it's "okay for me to keep in touch from time to time and pass on helpful information." So you're receiving this either because you graciously answered yes to my question, or you "opted in" from the web.

What exactly can you expect? Well, I'll share one main tip and keep it brief. Brief means 300-500 words. This will be followed by either the "Story of the Month" or the "Hot Issue of the Month." This second item will be even shorter - one or two paragraphs. Enough said - I hope — on to my newsletter ...

How to Write Compelling Stories from Masterful Interviews (Part 1)
[482 words]

How do you write a truly compelling story? A riveting story that showcases the marvelous work your mission does and moves readers to give generously. Answer? A masterful interview.

Even though folks you've helped are very happy about what you've done for them, they'll still most likely give a very simple answer when asked about it. However, lots of detail and emotion are needed to write a compelling story. Therefore it's vital to ask probing questions.

First masterful interview tip:

  • Discover how the experience makes the person feel. Go way beyond the facts to reveal how these events impacted the person emotionally, physically (including sight, smell, touch, taste, hear), and possibly spiritually. Much of the deeper meaning is revealed in the details.

Here's a sample interview with a young lady from a poor country. Notice that we don't discover the most compelling emotion of her story until the very last question:

"I'm so happy to have a new roof on my home. It may only be a shack to you, but it's my home."

What thoughts did you have about your new roof? How do you feel differently now?

"I'm so happy. I can sleep at night and my clothes are dry. The food doesn't get wet and I'm not sick anymore."

I guess during the monsoon season the rain came through your roof and got things pretty wet, including you?

"Yes. It was awful. Nothing was dry. I couldn't sleep. I got sick from being so tired and cold and wet all the time. And most of the food was not good but I couldn't afford more.

Why couldn't you buy more food? What kept you from getting more money?

"I couldn't make enough trips to carry the clothes to the river and get them all washed. I was too weak and had to keep resting along the way. I didn't finish my work."

Why is it so important that you be able to make so many trips to the river?

"That is how I make money; washing people's clothes. I couldn't do what I promised and needed to do."

I know you use the money from washing clothes to buy food and clothes for yourself, how do you feel now that you are healthy, have a new roof, and can buy good food again?

"I am no longer ashamed because I couldn't do what I should. And most of the money I give to my sister to help her feed her children. She has two boys and a girl and I love them so much! Now I'm happy again. Thank you!"

Again, she finally revealed the heart of her story with the very last question. She lost the shame and regained her pride; and the money she labors for really isn't even for her. Keep probing to reveal how they feel deep down and why that's important to them.

[Part 2 & the next tip in next month's issue.]

Story of the Month — Example of converting an interview into an opening story for a fundraising letter.
[115 words]

"I was ashamed. I was too weak to do my work. My sister depends on me to help buy food for her two boys and little baby girl. During monsoon season so much rain came through the roof that everything got wet. I couldn't sleep and the food got bad. My clothes, bed, everything was wet and didn't dry out. I got sick and it hurt to breathe I coughed so much. But I still needed to work. I struggled to carry the clothes a mile down to the river through the jungle to wash them; resting so often I wasn't finishing my work. My sister's children were hungry. Then Sister Cheryl came with help ... "

Question for me?

Is there a topic you'd like me to cover in a future issue? Click on the link to send me your question:

Thanks for joining me and until next time . . .

All the best,

Karen Zapp, Fundraising & Sales Copywriter
Perceptive Karen

Have a project coming up soon? I’d love to work with you on it. Just get in touch and we'll explore the possibilities together.


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Call anytime and we’ll chat about your needs: 800-794-1609
I look forward to helping you prosper.

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