profile

Subscribe to the Fundraising Writing Newsletter

Your donors are ready for the heart of the matter. Drop them right in.

Published 8 months ago • 3 min read

Thanks for dropping in. You ready for the heart of the matter? Welcome to the 98th issue of the Fundraising Writing Newsletter. Would you like to share? We'd be so grateful. (Your peeps can ​subscribe here for free.)

In this issue:

  • Your donors are ready for the heart of the matter. Drop them right in.
  • Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you
  • Win It in a Minute

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Hi Reader,

Think of a movie, book, or other story you started ... and soon after, you were tempted to skip ahead.

Why did you want to skip ahead?

Probably, it was boring. Probably, nothing much was happening.

Stories that immediately grab you tend to start by dropping you into the action — the heart of the matter.

For similar reasons:


Your donors are ready for the heart of the matter. Drop them right in.

Now, keep in mind that dropping your donors right into the heart of the matter does not necessarily mean your story need be your hook (or intro).

Often, a fundraising preface is warranted.

For example, in the following appeal we wrote for Faith's Lodge, the hook was a preface highlighting the urgency: "Funding is down..." (You can read more below.)

But — once it was time to tell the story, we dropped the donors right into the heart of the matter.

Note: the story below is about suicide.
Please take care while reading.

In case the screenshot above is hard to read, here's the copy alone pasted for better readability:

Dear <First Name>,
I’m writing to you today with some good news and some bad news. First, the bad news…
Funding is down — yet, now more than ever, hurting parents who’ve lost a child desperately need your help. They’re reeling, overwhelmed, and feeling hopeless. They urgently need a safe haven where they can heal and make connections — a place like Faith’s Lodge. I’m thinking about parents like Susi.
You see, Susi’s daughter Micah was smart, creative, and just beautiful, inside and out. Micah was Susi’s “everything.”
But, tragically — six weeks before her high school graduation — Micah took her life. It was unimaginable. When Susi had to say goodbye, she gave Micah a last kiss on her forehead. This painful image has never left her.

Notice how brief this "story" is.

Although it's elaborated on later in the appeal letter, what you see here is essentially the briefest possible version of this story.

It gets right to the point by contrasting Micah's beautiful true essence with the devastating moment of her mother's final farewell. The powerful image of the last kiss is visual and memorable. It's more than "enough."

(Especially with highly sensitive stories such as this one, sometimes less is more.)

And donors responded generously to the urgent need conveyed in this appeal. According to Kelly McDyre, Faith's Lodge's President and CEO:

"We LOVED LOVED what you did for us last year. Our year-end campaign increased 50% in returns and was up 28% in the number of donors."

So please, don't be afraid to drop your donors right into the heart of the matter. It's right where they want to be. They're ready.


Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you

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

  • Fundraisingly InformativePeople are people… even donors by Mary Cahalane (a blog post highlighting key reminders about how we must start from our shared humanity in order to communicate well)
  • Comically Analogous What do T-Rexes and Kangaroos have in common? via Fundraising Is Funny (a literally LOL 24-minute podcast episode in which, somehow, Lynne Wester's dinosaur mimicry helps illustrate fundraising office dynamics in pursuit of harmony; Clay Buck remains funny even without sound effects)
  • Wisely Shrewd The Real Price of Success by Sahil Bloom (a blog post about the "list price" versus "the real price" of success)
  • Optimally Adrenal Top 10 FASTEST Roller Coasters in the WORLD (2022) via Everything Explained (a 9-minute YouTube video for thrill seekers, vicarious or otherwise, who are perhaps looking to put pins in their coaster bucket list thrills map)
  • Peripatetically Convenient Roam Around (type in a travel destination you're considering, and this site's AI instantly generates itinerary ideas, slotting them into mornings, afternoons, and evenings)

Until next time: May you resist the temptation to tell boring stories, and instead commit to dropping your donors right into the heart of the matter, precisely where they want to be.

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.

Subscribe to the Fundraising Writing Newsletter

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. 💛 Start by subscribing to our FREE weekly newsletter.

Read more from Subscribe to the Fundraising Writing Newsletter

This is the 124th Fundraising Writing Newsletter. If you find value here, please tell your fundraising friends. (Your fundraising friends can subscribe here for free.) In this issue: ✅ AI vs Fundraising Writing — a head-to-head comparison ✅ Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you Wednesday, February 28, 2024 Hi Reader, My dad is now trying to sell a property, and the promotion he created is kind of hilarious and all kinds of awesome. Here's 1 of 38 slides he created and embedded in a...

4 days ago • 8 min read

Me: feeling like a fundraising adventurer. This is the 123rd Fundraising Writing Newsletter. If you find value here, please tell your fundraising friends. (Your fundraising friends can subscribe here for free.) In this issue: ✅ "Maybe Italian" — anatomy of a fundraising writing "gem" ✅ VIDEO: 'Win It in a Minute': How often is a new case statement necessary? ✅ Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you Wednesday, February 21, 2024 Hi Reader, Remember being a kid and seeing a movie that blows...

11 days ago • 4 min read

Winjoy's happy face. This is the 121st Fundraising Writing Newsletter. If you find value here, please tell your fundraising friends. (Your fundraising friends can subscribe here for free.) In this issue: ✅ Find places for happy faces ✅ VIDEO: 'Win It in a Minute': Upgrading Your "Soft Donors" ✅ Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you Wednesday, February 7, 2024 Hi Reader, The other day, Brett and I had some plumbing work done. In the process I noticed this one little detail I don't always...

25 days ago • 4 min read
Share this post