Writing fundraising appeals - 'The Most successful ones don't convert - they connect'

Getting people to hand over their hard-earned cash when they're bombarded with tragic stories every day isn't easy - so what's the best way to go about it?

Bill Bruty
Bill Bruty

It's important to identify your audience, says Bill Bruty, director of Fundraising Training. "The most effective writing emanates from a person who knows who they are writing to," he says. "The most successful appeals don't convert - they connect."

A central message is crucial - if you don't know what that message is, neither will anyone else. Liz Loudon, director of fundraising training firm Prospero Partners, says: "What are the three key messages you want to communicate? What do you want people to remember and what is the most important message?"

Facts can be a great way of backing up your message, but you must make them interesting. "The absence of facts, evidence and statistics will make the appeal an empty vessel," Loudon says. "You're looking for one great fact that nobody would know."

Although tragic case studies can make for successful emergency appeals, she advises you to use stories with an inspirational or uplifting aspect - "it can be very effective to tell stories about hope and heroism" - and to keep your writing short and sweet. "Never be afraid of a really short sentence, even a one-word sentence," says Loudon.

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