Denny’s Zinger: Hire a Pro to Write Your Fundraising Effort
Twenty years ago, a friend joined a cultural institution with a distinguished pedigree going back a century. My friend faithfully paid his dues for two decades and took advantage of the membership oh … maybe twice in all that time.
In mid-May he received a personal letter on elegant stationery from the executive director. The lede:
Dear Mr. [NAME],
Spring has finally arrived, and that means the May Special Appeal for building funds is reaching you as well. This should be my last May Appeal because I plan to retire at the end of December 2015.
The writer is a Ph.D., letting the reader know it in the letterhead and reminding him again in the signature block.
The letter was the only element. No reply card or slip. No option to use a credit card. No reply envelope which means the donor has to 1) find an envelope; 2) address it; 3) find and affix a stamp.
Takeaways to Consider:
- "The first 10 words are more important than the next ten thousand." —Elmer "Sizzle" Wheeler
- "Your lede should upset a bucket of gore in the reader's lap and then you should spend the rest of the time cleaning it up." -Bob Scott
- "Your best lede is most likely found in the middle of page 2 of your first draft." —Pat Friesen
- A pre-addressed reply envelope with a first class stamp serves as a guilt trip and can increase response and dollar amounts.
- "Make it easy to order." —Elsworth Howell
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Related story: Denny’s Zinger: When an Ad Is an Obvious Oxymoron