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X-ray image of a hand, with the words:

X-ray of a donor newsletter -- "Know your bones"

Isn't it weird that we all have bones?

Even as a kid, you know they're in you, under your skin.

But they're out of sight. So, you forget.


Donor newsletters are the same way. If you don't "X-ray" them to see their bones, making sure everything is in its right place... you might be in for some preventable pain.

Let's prevent that pain!

Money-making newsletter (written by Tom Ahern; designed by Andrea Hopkins): bird's-eye-view...

(As featured on The Case Writers website.)

Let's take just one page.

Zoom in: page view...

Focus: top of page...

And let the X-raying begin!

X-ray: image, headline, caption, label...

  • The image quality is good.
  • Nothing about the image distracts from its subject.
  • The image features a seal's face (aka, the face of a beneficiary) looking at you with big eyes.
  • The headline tells an before-and-after story
  • The headline's caboose is powerful: "home."
  • The arrow draws your attention to a note of gratitude that includes the word "YOU" (in all caps).
  • The caption starts with "You."
  • The caption tells the gist of the story you're about to read.

Focus: paragraph #1...

X-ray: the bones of paragraph #1...

  • This is a story of one beneficiary. (Keeping it simple. Confusion does not move donors to take action.)
  • The headline starts with a name, Zehr, which is nicely specific.
  • The headline expresses gratitude to "you."
  • The second sentence starts with "You."
  • The paragraph retells the "before" of the before-and-after story (i.e., story of need).
  • The last sentence shows the donor's impact: "...your generosity gave her a second chance at life..."
  • The last sentence ends with "you."

Focus: testimonial...

X-ray: the bones of the testimonial...

  • The testimonial includes a photo of a smiling person.
  • The testimonial includes a pleasing change of font style, color, and formatting... for variety and emphasis.
  • The testimonial serves as social proof. (She liked it — you probably will too!)
  • The testimonial breaks up the paragraphs. (Chunking helps!)

Focus: paragraphs #2 and #3...


X-ray: the bones of paragraphs #2 and #3...

  • The first sentence starts with "You'll."
  • The first phrase is bolded for emphasis and variety.
  • The first sentence evokes pathos/emotion. (Donors who FEEL more CARE more and GIVE more.)
  • The second sentence shows the donor's impact in action, so they can feel: "You Were There."
  • The second sentence respects the beneficiary's dignity and agency.
  • The second paragraph reiterates the need and forecasts what the impact will be with the donor's help.

Focus: paragraph #4...

X-ray: the bones of paragraph #4...

  • The first sentence starts with "You."
  • The first phrase evokes pathos/emotion.
  • The first sentence shows impact: Zehr had a "lightbulb moment," thanks to the donor.
  • The second sentence thanks the donor for this impact.
  • The second sentence depicts the "after" of the before-and-after story (i.e., story of impact).
  • The second sentence represents a happy ending.
  • The last word is "wild" — which means "the seal is going home." (And this last word echoes!)
  • The last character is a ❤️. (Again, invoking feeling as well as donor identity: "Yes, I am a person with heart. I think I will donate to help more hurting animals like Zehr.")

Focus: Call-to-Action...

X-ray: Call-to-Action (CTA)...

  • The CTA engages the donor.
  • The second word is "Your."
  • The next sentence also includes "you."
  • The CTA directs more people to the website.
  • The design of the CTA adds color and variety.
  • The CTA contrasts with the nearby paragraphs to stave off the mind-numbing effect of a "wall of text."
  • The CTA fosters action, which lifts donations.

Prognosis: These bones (knock-knock) are solid...

So, this newsletter is X-ray-approved!


While you're here...

Why not read a little more?

Here are a few more blog posts you might like:

1. Thank You for the "Mental Real Estate"

2. You Can't Feel "Empty Urgency"

3. The 1 Forrest Gump Fundraising Secret You Need

4. You Can't Get Donors to FEEL It If You Don't Feel It First

 5. Your Next Appeal: From Interview to Fundraising Story

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