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PERFECT PHRASES for FUNDRAISING
Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases for Appealing to Donors and Getting the Funding You Need
By Beverly Browning
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2013The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
All rights reserved.
The Order of Information for Reader Impact
This first chapter is essential to your success in raising funds to meet your organization's financial needs and gives you a glimpse of the myriad perfect phrases that I'll introduce in Part One: Perfect Phrases for Fundraising Letter Campaigns. Recipients of standard fundraising letters are bored and tired of reading unordered, random appeal paragraphs. They expect to see who needs their money rather than what organization needs their money. Putting the right phrases first and in impacting order can make the difference in having your funding appeal read or tossed. Approximately 95 percent of electronic and hard mail appeals are reader turnoffs. So, what's in the 5 percent of these types of appeals that make the funding cut? Why do readers want to read more and pull out their checkbooks? In this chapter, I will show you how to use words and the order of the words in perfect phrases to play on the hearts and wallets of potential donors. The most common old standby formats for reader impact are:
* electronic fundraising appeals (sent via e-mail)
* postal mail fundraising appeals (sent via the U.S. Postal Service)
Once you understand the psychology of funding appeal readers, you'll know how to capture their attention with words. Let's look at the basics of what impacts a reader's psyche.
Personalization Impact. Potential contributors want to believe that the letter or e-mail was written only to them and just for them. This means you must be on target when it comes incorporating the reader's name, title, organization's name, and a common shared value (shown in the person's contribution history priorities) into your electronic and/or postal mail appeals.
How can you increase your chances of impacting a funding appeal reader? You can gain an edge by thoroughly researching each and every recipient of your funding appeal. Use your favorite Internet search engine to locate critical information on each member and/or organization in your target audience for the appeal. Call potential donors' business offices to double-check the correct way to address them (Mr., Miss, Ms, Dr., Rev., or Honorable). Ask for the correct spelling of their first and last names. Also, ask if they prefer to use a nickname.
For example, William may prefer to be addressed in correspondence as Bill or Billy or Willy. To use William means that you know nothing about the reader and that you did not take the time to find out how to capture the reader's attention in the first line of your letter! Madeleine may prefer to be addressed as Ms. Jackson; to use Maddie could be a reader turnoff.
Giving Priorities Impact. Potential contributors most often give to causes or organizations that have a familiar place in their lives or corporations or foundations. By this I mean, for example, if Harry Jones, the CEO of Wondercast (a medical supplier of body cast wraps) who has traditionally contributed to orthopedic-related causes, receives an appeal for sponsoring a 5K marathon to raise money for asthma education, it's not going to impact Harry at all unless he or someone close to him suffers from asthma.
Outline for Electronic Fundraising Appeals
Using e-mail to solicit funds is not as easy as it appears. First, if your e-mail address is not in the reader's electronic address book, your e-mail will likely be routed away from the in-box to the trash, spam, or junk mail folder. Remember, the most important reason for using e-mail to raise funds is to drive the readers to your organization's website where they will be able to read more about the organization's background and history, mission, board members and affiliations, and programs and activities. Your e-mail is the introductory tickler (bait) to get them to click through to read more details. Once the readers are on your website, they will see the link for making a contribution. And if you're smart, giving won't be a five-web-page event, but a smooth and easy click, enter information, and submit! Let's get started looking at the most important components in what will become your award-winning e-mail to potential contributors.
1. Subject Line. The subject line in any e-mail is the magnet for getting the reader to open the message. This means that the subject line must appeal to the reader's sense of duty or responsibility. You have two options for the types of subject lines that engage an e-mail recipient to actually open the e-mail and read its content. Option 1: You can simply type an attention-getting phrase followed by your name, title, and the name of the organization. Here's an example of one of my successful subject lines: "Important Information from Dr. Bev Browning, Director–Grant Writing Training Foundation." Option 2: You can capture the recipient's attention with an urgent need subject line such as "26 FAMILIES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN are on the Holiday Cots waiting list ... we need your help!" Option 1 legitimizes you as the sender of the e-mail, and Option 2 immediately begins the funding appeal conversation. Both options work very well when it comes to their open rates. Note that I used ALL CAPS in the first few words for Option 2. This shouts to the reader about a very important target population group in dire need. This subject line approach urges the reader to read more and to HELP!
I created an open rate study with 500 Constant Contact e-mail connections. Option 1 was opened by 350 of 500 recipients (a 70 percent open rate); Option 2 was opened by 375 (a 75 percent open rate). This means that they both work. While the 500 contacts had given me their business cards over the past 20 years, none had ever received any e-mails from me until this study.
2. Opening Personalization Line. This is where you address the e-mail reader directly. "Sarah, did you know that ...?" "Mark, our families need your support ..." "Jeff, historical works of world-renowned artists are sitting in an unsecured storage area of the museum's basement!" Remember, this is your lead-in line where you connect the organization's need to the e-mail reader's familiar, value-driven area of contribution history (also known as past funding priorities). If you did your homework on Mark, you would have found out that he is married and has six young children. In other words, Mark is a family man and supports organizations that serve families. In Jeff's case, you would have read the online newspaper archives and discovered that he attended several museum openings in the past year and won an auction for a highly coveted historical work of art. Your organization's funding needs must be matched to potential contributors that have value-driven interests in your areas of need.
3. Continuation of the Personalization Line Need. Write four to six bulleted sentences on the need or problem that the contribution will meet or solve. Incorporate statistics and keep your area of need within a past-12-months time frame. Let's pick up on the letter to Mark in the following perfect phrases:
* In the past three months, our emergency shelter for homeless families has been faced with some tough decisions.
* While we've been blessed with room for 26 family-size durable cots, each cold and rainy night, an average of 26 additional Portland homeless families with very young children (ages newborn to three years old) have been turned away due to a lack of cots and space.
* With a predictable cold and damp winter season ahead, it's critical that we raise the funds to expand our space and purchase more family-size cots.
* The building attached to our west wall is empty and meets all code requirements for emergency shelter
Excerpted from PERFECT PHRASES for FUNDRAISING by Beverly Browning. Copyright © 2013 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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