Good questions

Man with questions.

I get asked questions about appeals ALL THE TIME.

The questions tend to fall into three buckets:

  1. Tactical questions
  2. Right Path questions
  3. Wrong Path questions

The tactical questions are good ones. They’re a sign of people and organizations trying to figure out the best practices for fundraising in appeals and e-appeals.

These are things like, “How long should my letter be?” and “Who should sign it?” (I should mention that I answer a number of these every week during Free Review Fridays.)

Right Path Questions

There’s a set of questions that I think are signs that a Fundraiser or organization is “heading down the right path” toward creating successful appeals and e-appeals.

Another way to put this: they are questions that people are asking about the things that really matter in the success or failure of appeals.

Because working on the things that matter will help you be more successful, faster.

My hope is at least one of them sparks a conversation about your appeals that leads you to the next level.

So here are just a few questions that I love getting, because they’re a sign that an organization is moving their donor communications forward…

  • What am I actually trying to make happen with an appeal?
  • Do we want our donors to “like” our appeal?
  • What should not be in an appeal?
  • What’s my offer?
  • Does the headline on the reply device make perfect sense after reading the letter?
  • Is the letter repetitive enough?
  • How many times should I ask?
  • Should I use “I” or “we”?
  • How do I create custom gift ask amounts?
  • Who should I send this to?
  • What should and shouldn’t go on a reply card?
  • What types of teasers work best?
  • What information should be a “headline” and what should be a “copy point”?
  • What should I leave out of the letter?
  • Should I do a different version for major donors?
  • Is my first sentence super easy to read?
  • What’s the real purpose of underlining and/or bolding?
  • How long before a deadline should I mail a letter?
  • Should I send a follow-up mailing?
  • What kinds of offers work best?
  • How can I use email to increase response to my appeal letter?

Each of these questions – to me – is a good question. It shows that the organization is wrestling with an issue that will help them better connect with their donors and raise more money.

Next Post…

Then there’s a set of questions I call Wrong Path Questions. They are questions that are usually a sign of an organization that is already on its way down a path towards raising less money.

It’s like a flock of birds arguing whether they should fly East or West for the winter when, really, they should be flying South.

Stay tuned for those in my next post.


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.

One comment on “Good questions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *