Fundraising in the Real World


Book Review: The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications by Jeff Brooks

Fundraiser's Guide to Irresistible CommunicationsThe subtitle for this book is “Real World Field-Tested Strategies for Raising More Money,” and it delivers on that promise. Brooks has penned an eminently practical guide for fundraising. In particular, he spends plenty of time explaining how to avoid mistakes that will kill the performance of your solicitations.

The Perfect Fundraising Letter

In one chapter, Brooks provides and outline for a long-form fundraising letter:

-Introduction: Why I’m writing to you.
-Why your gift is important today.
-How much impact your gift will have.
-Story that demonstrates the need.
-Remind the donor of his values and connection to the cause.
-Another story.
-Help the donor visualize what will happen when she gives.
-Conclusion: Thank the donor for caring. Ask again.

This is a great blend of classic persuasion and the sales page format known to Internet marketers as a “squeeze page.” The latter, often used for information products, punctuates a long persuasive message with frequent “buy now” buttons. In fact, many of Brooks’s points are congruent both with the “neuro” principles I describe in Brainfluence and with successful for-profit marketing techniques.

Fundraising is About the Donor

Throughout the book, Brooks reminds readers that even though their inclination will be to focus on the charity, its dedicated workers, its good works, and the people who benefit from those efforts, the donor should be a major focus, too. The donor should be portrayed as a hero in the process. Brooks recommends liberal use of the phrase “Because of You” in messaging to help keep the spotlight on the donor.

In fact, Brooks recommends a “donor as hero” approach in messaging. Even though an organizations staff may feel that they are the real heros of the story, fundraisers need to emphasize the heroic role of the donor. Fundraising marketing isn’t about making the staff feel good, it’s about raising money.

P.S. Don’t Forget The P.S.

Another piece of advice Brooks offers is to always include a postscript in a fundraising message. He says it’s the first thing many recipients read when they scan the letter, and you should use it to restate the call to action.

This book is a quick read, just 143 pages, but is chock-full of down to earth advice for boosting the effectiveness of fundraising appeals. There’s little or no theory, no research citations, just practical techniques Brooks has learned from 20 years in the fundraising trenches. This book is a must-read for anyone raising money for nonprofit causes.

Amazon Link: The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications

1 Comment
  1. Ana Hoffman says

    I did my first fundraising a couple of weeks ago – a walkathon for my kindergartner. I had no idea they start to learn how to raise money that early…

    I am going to get smarter next year and actually work on fundraising letters.

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