6 Ways to Motivate Donors
3. Point to words you want people to notice. Everybody knows (I think) to underline key words and phrases you want readers to notice. But you can do so much more. Use call-out boxes of text, photo captions, “handwritten” margin notes and other marks to create a hierarchy of your critical message points. Draw arrows, circles, even pictures to keep your reader involved with the package. But don’t make the page too busy to read, of course. White space generally trumps everything else as long as it forces the reader to see what you want him or her to see.
4. Lead with a story — if you don’t have a story, lead with the reader. A strong story grabs the reader’s attention right from the start and holds it for as long as you keep it interesting. If you don’t have a good story, open with an emphasis on the reader, not your organization, e.g., “There’s something you need to know about what’s happening to your drinking water …”
5. If you use bullets, put the strongest points at the top and bottom. The middle generally gets read last, not second.
6. Answer one question above others: Why you? Most donors give to a number of organizations because they care about more than one thing. So while you’re convincing them to donate you also have to persuade them why they should donate to you and not one of the many other organizations that have missions similar to yours. Imagine your donor or prospect, sitting there at home, minding her own business, not bothering anybody. She’s comfortable, content … inert. That’s not going to change just because you write to her. Plenty of other people are doing that too. And a lot of them are offering something a lot more tangible for her money than just the emotional reward of helping you.
Willis Turner believes great writing has the power to change minds, save lives, and make people want to dance and sing. Willis is the creative director at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He worked as a lead writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 15 years before making the switch to fundraising 20 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, and collateral communications materials that get attention, tell powerful stories and persuade people to take action or make a donation.