The Choreography of Donor Attention

Donor Attention.

Superfast, three-part tip to help you raise more money with your appeal letters.

Part 1 – Here’s How Your Donors “Read”

This is what’s called a “heat map” – it shows where donors’ eyes go as they look at your direct mail letters.Heatmap.Your donors will scan your letter to decide IF they will read your letter.

And not everyone will decide to read your letter.

But you still want everyone to receive the message you’re sending, right?

Part 2 – So, You Need To…

Knowing where your donors are likely to look, you need to “choreograph” your letter to put the most important information in the places where a donor is most likely to see it.

Part 3 – And You’ll Raise More If…

So you might ask, “What’s the most important information I can share with my donor?”

Here’s what our experience says. The most important information to share quickly with a donor in an appeal is:

  • Why their gift is needed today
  • What their gift will accomplish

Note: this is just one of the reasons why having a great fundraising offer, and knowing how to Ask powerfully, are vital to success. Great offers communicate very quickly why a donor’s gift is needed, and what it will accomplish.

Once you know all this, you’ll make different choices about what you say in your letters, and where you say it. You move away from the demonstrably poor-performing “share a story of success and ask for support” approach, and toward a direct mail approach that raises lots of money.


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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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