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Be the highlighting hero of your fundraising appeals πŸ¦Έβ€β™€οΈ

Published 9 months agoΒ β€’Β 7 min read

Grab your favorite highlighter because we're flying with colors in this 93rd issue of the Fundraising Writing Newsletter. If you're feeling heroic, please come to the rescue by sharing with a like-minded colleague. Thank you! (Like-minded colleagues can ​subscribe here for free.)​

In this issue:

  • Be the highlighting hero of your fundraising appeals
  • Register for the donor newsletter & retention webinar (report backing = you are good to go; ask again ... and retain your donors)
  • Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Hi Reader,

With all the graduation celebrations going on at this time of year, I’ve been thinking about my college days: those heavy textbooks, late-night study sessions, and β€” of course β€” the highlighter that was supposed to be your best friend for understanding key points.

But wait! What if you ended up with more of the page highlighted than not?

It's like highlighting took over the page in a neon explosion, making it seem as if everything was vitally important. Remembering the key points became like spotting a hot pink polar bear in a fluorescent pink blizzard! πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

And then you had your unmarked pages β€” (was I dozing during that lecture?) β€” nothing to see here, I guess.

Turns out: writing appeal letters is a Goldilocks-esque "highlighter" game. Striking the right balance between too much and too little emphasis is as crucial for your fundraising as it was for your studying.

So . . . how can you ensure your key points stand out for your donors . . . without making your appeal letter look like a highlighter-drenched textbook?

Pull out your highlighters. It's time to . . .


Be the highlighting hero of your fundraising appeals

You'll certainly feel like a hero when you raise more money with your fundraising letters because you were careful to emphasize properly. (Not all the things. Just the right ones.)

Whether you use underlining, bolding, highlighting, or italicizing β€” or a tasty blend of them all β€” the strategy you'll want to employ remains the same: make the crucially important ideas within your appeals visually pop.

In case it's not obvious: the main reason to use emphasis is to guide your donors' reading journey.

Let's face it: most donors (i.e., busy people) scan rather than read your letter from start to end.

So when their eyes land on a bold, underlined, or highlighted sentence, they pause and pay more attention.

What things should you emphasize in your appeal?

To avoid emphasizing too much of your appeal text, you should focus on these 3 elements:

  1. The problem
  2. The solution
  3. The call-to-action (CTA)

This simple strategy will help your donors quickly grasp what you're asking (the problem), how they can help (the solution), and the steps they can take right now to be a part of the solution (the CTA).

An example for you . . .

Below is an excerpt from a fundraising appeal I mocked up (for the purposes of illustration here).

First, I’ll show you a version with emphasis. Then I’ll explain why I did what I did. πŸ™‚ Here we go!

[EXCERPT BEGINS]

Your ongoing compassion and commitment to our community is truly inspiring. You understand the reality that, in our very own neighborhoods, families are struggling to put food on the table. Rising costs have turned daily living into an uphill struggle for many.
​
Among those caught in this harsh reality are Taylor and her mom, Beth. Beth recently lost her job. Like many parents, she's grappling with rising costs every day. Feeding her daughter in the face of such adversity has become an overwhelming challenge.
​
Taylor is an adventurous seven-year-old with a heart full of dreams. She enjoys playing soccer, is fascinated with all things science, and likes laughing with her friends. When Taylor grows up, she wants to become a pilot. But for Taylor’s dreams to take flight, she needs the foundation of regular, nutritious meals.
​
​
As someone with a heart for families suffering from hunger, you are in a unique position to make a difference. Today, you can help children like Taylor receive the food they need to be healthy.
​
​
As you know, the increasing cost of living has left many families in the lurch. A staggering 34 million people face hunger every day, including 1 in 6 children. It's devastating to think that parents like Beth lie awake at night worrying about their children's next meal.
​
​Please send back the enclosed form with your gift today. Your kindness can help families like Taylor's get the food they need to be healthy. Today, every $1 you give can provide at least 7 meals for children like Taylor.

[EXCERPT ENDS]

Now I’ll explain why I emphasized the sentences above...

  1. "You understand the reality that, in our very own neighborhoods, families are struggling to put food on the table."
    ​
    This sentence has been emphasized because it speaks to the problem addressed in the appeal: the issue of hunger. I’m helping to make it easier for the reader to identify what the organization is trying to solve and why the donor's help is needed.
    ​
    ​
  2. "But for Taylor’s dreams to take flight, she needs the foundation of regular, nutritious meals."
    ​
    ​
    This sentence is crucial because it emphasizes the connection between the problem (hunger) and its impact on the beneficiaries (like Taylor). It underscores the importance of the cause and the urgent need for donor support. Also: it's directly related to the solution (providing meals) that the appeal asks donors to help with.
    ​
    ​
  3. "Today, you can help children like Taylor receive the food they need to be healthy."
    ​
    This sentence is a transition from the problem to the solution. It indicates that the donor has the power to make a difference.
    ​
  4. "Please send back the enclosed form with your gift today. Your kindness can help families like Taylor's get the food they need to be healthy. Today, every $1 you give can provide at least 7 meals for children like Taylor."
    ​
    This is the call-to-action β€” a crucial part of any fundraising appeal. By emphasizing these sentences, I am showing that the donor’s action can bring about change, providing them with a clear path to become a part of the solution. I’m focusing the donor’s attention on what they need to do next.
    ​
    This CTA clearly states the actions a donor can take to help solve the problem: how they can donate, why their contribution is important, and the specific impact they will have.

And now for something totally cool 😎

Check this out πŸ‘‰ If you take all the emphasized sentences out of the fundraising message and string them together, they tell the donor EVERYTHING they need to know.

See for yourself:

You understand the reality that, in our very own neighborhoods, families are struggling to put food on the table.
​
But for Taylor’s dreams to take flight, she needs regular, nutritious meals.
​
Today, you can help children like Taylor receive the food they need to be healthy.
​
Please send back the enclosed form with your gift today. Your kindness can help families like Taylor's get the food they need to be healthy. Today, every $1 you give can provide at least 7 meals for children like Taylor.

Voila! πŸ‘

Cap that highlighter and breathe easy. You now know a great method to double-check that your emphasized text makes perfect sense to your appeal-skimming donors!

​


Register for the donor newsletter & retention webinar on June 15th

You're invited!

Please join us for an intense super-sized 1.5-hour webinar (plus "All-You-Can-Eat" Q&A session) with training by Tom Ahern β€” whom the New York Times dubbed "possibly the greatest non-profit copywriter on the planet."

In this once-in-2023 MEGA-webby, you'll discover how you can take your organization's newsletter from I-guess-this-might-work to this-one's-a-keeper!

Tom's got a selection of amazing success stories to share, including how he helped create newsletters that now generate substantial, repeatable income for charities.

One of these? A newsletter that now brings in almost half a million in extra donations each time it gets sent out.

Intrigued?

But wait, there's more!

We're also excited to have Rachel Muir, CFRE, joining us as a special guest. Rachel is a renowned nonprofit founder and thought leader (endorsed by Oprah). She'll be sharing her expertise on stewardship, retention, and newsletters.

During the webby, you'll hear awesome true tales of transformation, like how a simple shift in communication increased a hospital foundation's newsletter donations by a staggering 1,000%.

This is the only chance you'll get to join this enlightening event in 2023, so you won't want to miss out.

Your ticket to this "knowledge feast" is just US$139 per computer connection. A small investment that can yield significant returns when you put the lessons you'll learn into action.

Secure your spot now, and get ready to unlock the potential of your newsletters. Find out more and register here.


Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you

For your brain, heart, and funny bone...


Until next time: May you emphasize all the right things in all your appeals ... so even your supporter skimmers get the gist and give. 🎁

All our best,

PS: Here's the latest in our weekly video series, Win It in a Minute. You can (and maybe want to?) subscribe here.

In this video, Tom answers the question:

β€œSome board members think asking for a gift in a person's will is in poor taste. Why is this thinking wrong?”
video preview​

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Hi! We're Julie Cooper and Brett Cooper, fundraising copywriters for great causes. Does your fundraising bring in as much money as it could? You can send donor communications that stir hearts to action. We'd love to help. πŸ’› Start by subscribing to our FREE weekly newsletter.

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