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Where do you start when you create a fund-raising appeal?

One school of thought says you should begin with the letter. The letter is the largest part of your conversation with the reader. Other parts of the package should echo its phrases or salient points.

Another school of thought says you should first write the envelope teaser. From the reader’s point of view, the teaser copy sets the tone for the package. Writing it first helps you to keep that tone consistent from one piece of the package to another.

And, finally, there’s a school of thought that says you must start your writing with the response form. And I personally think this approach makes the most sense in nonprofit fundraising.

Your response form needs to succinctly state the benefits of contributing and deftly summarize your offer. It is, in effect, a prospectus for the whole package. Also, if your offer stinks and there is no way to write a nice smell into it, writing the response form first could save you the effort of producing a package doomed to failure.

Did I say “offer”? I’m not talking about a premium enclosure; I’m talking about an emotional tug to spur your reader to action? Don’t only tell them why you want them to respond, tell them how they’ll feel if they do!

Be sure your message is enhanced with emotion. These could include:
• Flattery, Greed,  Anger, Salvation, Patriotism, Exclusivity, Guilt, or Fear

That’s a partial list. If you think about your organization’s mission, you can probably come up with more.

Try starting your next fundraising letter with the response form. It will help to keep your eye on the offer.

Paul Barry

by Paul Barry
President Emeritus and Strategist, Perrone Group

annual fund
fund raising