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Member, Association of Fundraising Professionals
Member, American Society of Association Executives
Resources – Newsletter Archive

July, 2006

Welcome to "Karen's Fundraising Tips." Today's newsletter (which you can read in 3-5 minutes ... tops) includes tools to discover what your donors are thinking and how to 'get to know them.' Plus I've included a simple method to bring your copy alive and infuse it with profound believability.

With regard to my newsletter in general - on the second Tuesday of each month I 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.

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What's your biggest challenge? Send me a short note with one or two of your biggest challenges. I'll share suggestions on making them less of a challenge in a future issue. Just send an email to and I'll take it from there.

Do You Know Your Donor? And Why That's Important!
[378 words]

Copy that inspires larger donations, motivates more advocacy action, or spurs greater response of any kind begins with knowing your donor, your prospect, your audience. That's why a fundamental rule of writing strong copy is . . . "Know Thy Audience."

Knowing doesn't refer to mere demographics or geographic segments of the population. Deep, powerful knowledge of your audience comes from psychographics. Their desires, fears, beliefs, frustrations, interests, and past donating preferences.

So how do you get to know them? What are the tools that reveal donor thinking and donor psychographics?

  • Study complaint letters you receive. They usually reveal a great deal about your donor's expectations and feelings. Study any letters from donors and prospective donors.

  • Examine the mailing list data card. Begin near the top of the card. Here is a useful description of what the prospects have responded to or donated to in the past. Next is the profile data. I recommend you be skeptical of this information. Finally, the golden data on the card comes from the usage history. These are "competitors" who have used the list for continuous runs.

       Take a close look at who else is successfully using the list. Study their web sites, publications, and copies of their mailings. Learn about their mission as it compares to yours. All this reveals insight into what emotions motivate the donors.

  • Talk to your major donors. Have someone in your organization in a high position make the phone call - such as the Executive Director, Director of Development, or possibly someone on the board. First thank them for their generosity. Then ask them a few questions about why they give to your mission. What do they like best about what you're doing? I strongly recommend making these calls.

  • Do what they do. Check out the magazines, books, newsletters, web sites, ads, and products targeted for your donors and prospects. Examine them and get a feel for what's working.

Armed with this knowledge you can "become" the donor or prospect. You understand how they think and what they think about. You know their beliefs; what keeps them awake at night; and what do they respond to. You know donor psychographics.

And this is the foundation for great copy that hits your donor's hot button . . . triggers an emotional reaction . . . and motivates them to act - to donate.

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Hot Tip of the Month - Try the Stanislavsky Method
[198 words]

Simply stated, the Stanislavsky Method is putting yourself in your donor's or prospect's shoes. You combine your knowledge of the prospect with your own experiences. This process makes copy powerfully believable. So fire up your imagination and become your donor. You've gathered the facts about your donor/audience (see article above) and discovered their interests and past habits.

Now use your imagination to feel what it's like to be your donor. Ask yourself: What are you passionate about? What stirs you deep inside? Why do you give to XYZ organization and their cause? What is their most significant contribution? What do you like most about what XYZ does and why?

After answering a slew of questions along these lines, combine the answers above with your own personal experiences. For example, if you concluded that patriotism is the primary emotion to drive your donors to give, then recall a time in your own life when you felt extremely patriotic. Bring that memory and personal experience into your copy. Write about your own emotional memory of patriotism.

Your copy comes alive. It's believable. Your donors will have a strong emotional experience and be compelled to donate generously to your mission.

Feel free to forward my newsletter to a colleague. Plus, here's how they can sign-up to receive it directly:

1. Just click on this link, In the email message to me, please include the first name and email address of your colleague. I'll take care of signing them up.

Or ...

2. You can sign them up directly on my website by following this link:

"Karen's Fundraising Tips"

Thanks for joining me and until next time ...

All the best,

Karen Zapp, Fundraising & Sales Copywriter
Perceptive Karen

P.S.  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.


Return to Karen Zapp’s Newsletter Archive page


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

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