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How to Write Successful Fundraising Appeals



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This is the 3rd edition with a publication date of 6/24/2013.
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At its heart this classic book is about how the process of fundraising is a process of one-to-one relationship building. The book helps nonprofit staff responsible for writing fundraising appeals, write them well and drastically increase the odds that every appeal, regardless of type, intended audience or medium, produces the desired result. In addition to Mal's accessible, conversational style, one of the book's primary strengths is its numerous examples, techniques and approaches based on his three decades of experience. These tools guide readers step-by-step, appeal by appeal, through a process that for many can be painstaking. Every chapter will be updated to reflect current knowledge about direct response communication and many of the examples will be replaced with new ones. The new chapter on social media will help readers understand where the technology "fits" into the organization's overall fundraising strategy and how to evaluate and use the available tools (e.g. Twitter, FB, mobile) effectively. Through the use of current data, and new examples, the chapter will also clarify the differences between writing traditional direct response appeals and writing for social media and how, in either case, to write effectively. The chapter on Writing Online Appeals will be updated in line with current research (e.g. online vs offline behavior, online giving stats, demographics, best practices for integration with traditional approaches) and will feature new examples of successful and unsuccessful online appeals. Emergent fundraising technologies (Blackbaud, NW For Good, Razoo, etc.) will also be covered. A new, stand-alone, online Writer's Toolkit features full-color samples of the types of fundraising packages discussed in Chapters 10-19 in addition to full color versions of some of the b&w examples in the book, the online examples in Chapter 20, and additional samples of eNewsletters and online appeals.

Author Biography

Mal Warwick, consultant, author, and public speaker, is the founder and chair of Mal Warwick | Donordigital. Warwick has written or edited many books including Fundraising When Money is Tight, Revolution in the Mailbox, The Five Strategies for Fundraising Success, and Fundraising on the Internet. Find more information on Mal and his books at and

Eric Overman is vice president of digital strategy at Donordigital. Prior to joining Donordigital, Eric was vice president of digital strategy at Grizzard Communications.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Third Edition  ix

About the Author  xv

Introduction: Why You Should Read This Book     1

PART I Motivating Your Audience

1 Why People Respond to Fundraising Appeals

2 How a Fundraising Appeal Is Like a Personal Visit

3 What Donors Really Think About Fundraising Letters

4 Characteristics of an Effective Fundraising Appeal

5 A Leisurely Tour Through One Successful Appeal

PART II Your Plan of Action

6 What to Do Before You Write Any Fundraising Appeal

7 Eight Steps Toward Successful Fundraising Appeals

8 The Cardinal Rules of Fundraising Letters

9 You’re Writing for Results—Not for a Pulitzer Prize

PART III Customizing Your Appeal

10 Recruiting New Donors: Starting Intimate

Conversations with Strangers

11 Recruiting New Supporters: Beginning the Cultivation Process Online

12 Welcoming New Donors: Treating People Like Part of the Family

13 Appealing for Special Gifts: Bringing Your Case Down to Earth

14 Asking for Year-End Contributions: Making the Most of the Holiday Spirit

15 Recruiting Monthly Sustainers: Offering Small Donors a Chance for Greater Impact

16 Soliciting High-Dollar Gifts: Framing the Case for Major Contributions

17 Going for Bigger Gifts: Persuading Donors to Make an Extra Commitment

18 Seeking Annual Gifts: Building Long-Term Loyalty, One Year at a Time

19 Thanking Your Donors: Friend-Raising Before Fundraising

20 Promoting Legacy Gifts: Seeking the Ultimate Commitment

PART IV Reinforcing Your Appeal

21 Rounding Out Your Appeal with Online Media and More

22 Writing Online Appeals

23 The New Keys to Success in Fundraising Today

PART V The Appeal Writer’s Toolbox

A Sample Multichannel Campaign Calendar

B Twenty Great Email Subject Lines

C Sixty Successful Outer Envelope Teasers

D Fifty-Four Strong Leads for Fundraising Appeals

E Ninety Ways to Use the Word “You” in a Fundraising Appeal

F Sixty-Three Ways to Handle Awkward Copywriting Transitions

G Forty-One Powerful Ways to End a Fundraising Appeal

H Fifty-Eight Ways to Start a P.S. in a Fundraising Appeal

I Fifteen Ways How Not to Get Results


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