AttentionFundraising letters communicate a specific message to potential donors and call them to action. Creating an attention getting opening paragraph is important in making a good first impression and in getting the rest of the letter read.

Here are 5 Attention Getting Strategies for Fundraising Letters:

1. Headlines

Even though a fundraising letter should be in the format of a letter with a salutation, body and closing, a headline at the top of the page can be an attention grabber. Headlines are usually just 1-2 lines and are printed in larger type that the rest of the letter. For added interest, use a different font.

2. Attention Getting Words

Using very specific words as sentence openers grab the readers attention. Notice that many of these sample phrases ask the reader to do something. Here are a few examples:

Just imagine if…
Right now…
Think about…
Why is it that…
Without a doubt…
For instance,
Please don’t overlook…

3. Questions

Open ended questions are great ways to begin a letter. Questions are designed to get the reader to think. When asked a question, people automatically try to answer it. Avoid using yes/no questions, because this is too easy an answer and the conversation in the reader’s mind stops.

Here’s an example: “How many people in our city go hungry at Christmastime each year? Statistics say that on average 357 will miss at least one meal between Christmas and New Year’s Day because their cupboards are bare. Many of these are senior citizens. This year let’s keep this statistic from becoming a reality.”

4. Bold Statements & Exclamations

Another way to open the letter is by using a bold statement, often related to shocking situations or statistics. For example, “Every day 7,400 people become infected with the HIV virus

Sentences using exclamation points work well for a letter with a light hearted tone. For example, “It’s that time of year again – the Clark County Yam Festival is almost here!”

A few well placed exclamation points at the beginning and/or other sections of the letter add energy. Just be sure to use exclamation points sparingly in the overall letter. Having too many of them gives the impression of hype or insincerity.

5. Narratives & True Stories

One of the most successful ways to get your message across is to describe a story of a specific person or situation that your organization has helped. If your group has made some major achievements and successes these can also be of use. Always remember to include stories that will engage the reader, not just show off accomplishments.

In the guidebook the 7 Essential Steps to Raising Money by Mail you’ll find many more creative ideas for your fundraising letters. In fact, there are 321 sample words, phrases and sentence starters to add spice to your letter, fill in some of the missing pieces or just help get your own creativity flowing.

Posted on 29 September 2009

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