"You helped us rock our year-end appeal! Donations went from $13,968 last year to $66,694 this year!” ~Yeou-Chang Ma, Children’s Orchestra Society

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Photos of animals making different faces to reflect the different ways people sometimes feel.

You can't get donors to FEEL it if you don't feel it first

"Don't put that in there!" 

This is how Julie replied to my beloved first idea for a subject line for this newsletter.

She deemed my idea "gross" and "not good."

She was right, of course. (As she usually is! ❤️)

Still, I can't resist telling you my bad idea anyway...

Skip over the red text below if you don't want to know:

Brett's Gross, Not Good Subject Line Idea

Which was –

Let your eyes make crinkle fries

That's it. Six words. Pretty weird! (And greasy?!)

Real quick... You know crinkle fries, right?

These things:

Get those crinkle fries outta my eyes!

I share my bad idea because I think the image is memorable and – for me, at least – helpful.

(Also, crinkle is a fun word.)

Crinkle fries may help illustrate what we mean here in our final, Julie-approved subject line:

You can't get donors to FEEL it if you don't feel it first

You see, there's a story...

The other day, an elder woman waved hello to me from her car as I walked back home after a run in the park.

Even through the windshield, I could see the "crinkles" that framed her eyes when she smiled at me.

I love those crinkles – forget Botox!

She really meant that smile!

She was really FEELing it.

I had never met this nice woman. Nor am I exceptionally smile-inducing. So this was not about me. It was all her.

Yet I certainly did appreciate that crinkly smile.

I FELT it.

It's the same with your donors.

If you want them to smile and feel warm in the heart while reading your newsletter (for example) – so they know and feel they made an impact – make sure first you find and polish heartwarming stories of impact that make you smile.

Likewise, if you want your donors to feel justifiably upset and compassionate while reading your appeal (for example) – so their hearts ache and they feel the need to act – find that sort of story and write it until you feel it.

How do you know when your stories are finally good enough? When YOU can feel it. 🧡

Not FEELing it?

  • Keep polishing your story until you do feel it.
  • Or find better stories.
  • Make finding stories a priority.
  • Develop a system for finding good stories.
  • Gather your stories of need and of impact year round and then choose the best ones when you need them.
  • Tell everyone in your org to be on the lookout for stories.
  • Heck, bribe them with pickleball, fajitas, and margaritas. (Or something!)

This is our job as fundraising writers: to transfer what we feel in our hearts to donors' hearts so they feel it too.

Because donors who FEEL more CARE more and GIVE more.

We owe it to our donors to feel it.

They want to feel it.

They want to give.

Even when it hurts.

Especially when it hurts.

(Because giving can help make the hurting stop.)

Fundraising Writing Newsletter

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I share fresh, practical donor communication tips and resources... and some silliness too.

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