We all talk about the need for a visual and emotional “hook” in our fundraising letters. But it’s really hard to pull off!
What you want to do is create a visual metaphor or a story that portrays your message. In the 09 Year-End Fundraising Strategies Telesummit, direct mail guru Mail Warwick calls this the “dynamite marketing concept.”
It’s something really compelling about the campaign that catches people’s attention and motivates them to learn more about it and eventually to responds.
Here’s what not to do!
Mal shared his perspective,”The problem is that nonprofit folks typically think what they need to do in their letters is to tell their donors all about the great work they are doing.
“They like to talk about the specifics of their work, the programs and projects they have in place, and then they think the donors will come running.”
But we really have to step back and get into the mind of the donor.
We have to determine which aspects of the work we’re doing would really appeal to the donor’s fundamental values and beliefs and what benefits that would provide.
This is very different from starting out an appeal letter “for 20 years the xxx organization has lovingly served xxxx group of people in our community.” (yawn)
Instead start your letter with a story. Just like the way lots of newspaper articles begin.
Perhaps it goes like this: “Johnny Smith woke up Monday morning, hungry again.”
Wow, doesn’t that strike you in a completely different way? It creates a visual narrative that draws the reader in. You want to keep reading don’t you? Starting with a story is an amazing technique.
You could go on to say that Johnny lives right here in our community, and his single mother could not find work. You could talk about how many nights a week he goes to bed hungry. Or perhaps how he stuffs his empty backback with cafeteria food at school because he knows there is no food at home.
As you read this, you are forming pictures in your mind, aren’t you? It is generating an emotional feeling in your soft heart (I hope.)
THIS is the way to appeal to your donors’ hearts. And you’d be surprised at the result.