A Little Visual Punch


Last week I wrote about how adding ”handmade” touches to the design of your appeal letter can increase the chances it will connect with a donor.

Here’s another tool you can use: add elements that catch their eye and add impact to your message.

Look at the following table included in a recent successful appeal letter:

This table does a GREAT job communicating the main point of the letter; that the cost of living has dramatically increased for the beneficiaries of this organization.

We created the table and put it in the letter because the paragraphs we’d written about the increased costs just didn’t seem to be making an impact. The letter lacked punch. Something more visual and powerful was needed.

As you think about doing something like this in your fundraising, here are four qualities I’m aiming for as I help create something like this…

Visual Surprise

It’s a visual surprise to see a table like this in the middle of the letter copy. It sticks out, and readers’ eyes are drawn to it. Visual interest at key areas leads to more readers, and more readers leads to more givers.

Easy to Understand

Even though there are a lot of numbers, the chart is easy to understand.

The items in the left column are something every donor understands. The “% INCREASE” header of the right-hand column is bold and makes it easy to know what the table is about. And the percentages in the right column are also easy to understand.

Easy to Understand FAST

Most readers will read the upper left corner (“RICE IN HAITI”) and then blip right over to “% INCREASE” and “40.07%.” I suspect most people then immediately a) understood the point the table was communicating, b) immediately knew that the rest of the table just gave them more examples, and then c) moved on to the rest of the letter without reading anything else in the table.

For something like this to be successful, the reader should not have to read the whole thing.

Higher Impact

The size and type in the table communicate importance. The table made the point more strongly than a sentence like, “prices are rising dramatically, as much as 40% in Haiti for rice and 140% of potatoes in India.”

As you create your fundraising, always be on the lookout for ways you can spice up your letter by communicating information in ways other than words. Get good at it and your fundraising will have higher impact, higher engagement, and higher revenue.


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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