Put on your donor hat and read this:

“We build clinics after a thorough analysis of market factors identifies regions that lack quality healthcare as well as communities and leaders who are receptive to the vision of empowerment.”

Did you make it through to the end, or did you check out when you hit the words “market factors?”

Now try this: 

“We heal those who have no other hope.”

When writing for donors, remember that you’re not writing a grant proposal. Instead, use a conversational style. Put some passion into your plea.   

Tom Ahern, a great case statement writer, has said, “Write drunk. Edit sober.” We’re certainly not suggesting that you drink a few beers before sitting down at your computer, but there is something to be said about the creativity that comes from free thinking.

Here are some tips to write compelling newsletter articles, appeals, cases for support—anything you want your donors to read:

  • Start with a hook—something your donors aren’t expecting. Or start with something that evokes emotion. 
  • Read your text out loud. If it’s too stilted, pretend you’re talking to a friend and edit it that way. 
  • Send your piece to your mother, your brother, or anyone who doesn’t know your organization. When they’re done, ask them if they’d give to the cause. 
  • Write descriptive headlines and photo captions. Most people won’t read your text, but at least they’ll glance at the easy stuff. 
  • Limit your statistics to one or two powerful nuggets. Too much data = numbers numb.
  • Keep paragraphs short. White space is a beautiful thing to a reader.
  • Use “you” a lot. Flatter your donors and make them feel important.Remember what your high school English teacher told you—ALWAYS start with an outline. At least write your section headers first to give you direction. 

In a world of 140-character Tweets and social media overload, it’s harder than ever to get your message across.  Follow these simple strategies and you’ll have a better chance at getting—and keeping—your donors’ attention. 

Water Missions International uses a personal story to connect the reader to their cause.  Click the following link to view Water Mission's personal story: Water Missions International Letter

Article written by: Jessica Browning, Assistant Vice President for Communciations

The generous will prosper: those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
(Proverbs 11:25)

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