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You should be an "ask dropper" — part 2

Reminder: In our parlance, "ask dropping" means skillfully dropping asks in an appeal. (Hesitation is not your friend.)

Note: Part 1 of this appeal includes mentions of child abuse and suicide. Please take care while reading.

Below is Part 2, the analysis of the rest of the appeal:


  • The offer — The cost of impact. Here, it's broken down in 3 ways, with 3 dollar amounts for 3 kinds of impact a donor might have.

    (And since this comes at the end of the page, we have included an "over please" to encourage continued reading.)

  • personalized transition — This helps to cue up the continuing story after the offer.

    It's good to occasionally include personalization, if possible. (Each page of personalization and/or segmentation will add to your printing expense, but you'll find strategic placement well worth the cost!)

  • Resume the story — It's often good to resume the story in a way that's opposite from how you left it.

    You may recall that (in Part 1), we left the story with Olivia's mom learning about Idaho Youth Ranch from a Facebook ad. It was a moment of hope.

    Here, we are resuming the story with Olivia really hurting. This hurting (which is very real and helps to show the urgency and need) powerfully contrasts with that moment of hope.

    The story continues with details about how Olivia is feeling and details about how Idaho Youth Ranch is helping her.

    It ends with a moment that is both sad — because Olivia feels profound anxiety — and hopeful — because we understand that the equine therapist is making progress with Olivia.

    This tension between negative and positive is a good time to pause the story and...

  • Drop the next ask — Notice that this ask includes a transition: "But it doesn't have to be." (Which connects to the previous story element, re: Olivia's anxiety: "It's always right there.")

    This ask also includes a promise of the donor's impact for Olivia: a foundation for a bright future, a toolbox of skills, the ability to name and untangle feelings to move past the hurt.

    And we end with a direct ask: "Please, will you help..." with the urgency of a deadline.

  • big picture conclusion with an indirect ask, closing, and a signature — The big picture here is that Olivia is representative of so many hurting kids.

    A powerful statistic is then added, after the story has improved the odds of hearts being moved to action.

    The urgency is now framed not just by Olivia's story but by all of the other Idaho kids waiting for care and transformation. (But only after the story of just one girl, Olivia, has made the need come to life in a compelling, relatable, donor-sized way.)

    Then, the urgency returns to "small picture" (one person reading an appeal) with language that connects to the donor: "You are their best chance." Which is true... and it's good to remind donors of this after painting the big picture of great need.

    The following indirect ask is a visual way of invoking the donor's agency: "Will you please stand with and for Idaho families?" If donors can do something, perhaps they should and will, if it aligns with their values.

    The closing connects to the indirect ask and to the mission of the signatory representing the organization: "In support of Idaho's most vulnerable youth."

  • One or two postscripts with a final ask — Research shows that most people read the P.S. either first or second as they skim a fundraising letter.

    Therefore, it's critically important to include the most important information in the P.S.

    That means you should include a direct ask, urgency ("today"), and you language that appeals to a donor's identity ("Is this you?").

    It's also good if you can concisely, emotionally capture the impact a donor can have: "You'll know in your heart that somewhere in Idaho a child and their family are crying tears of joy for the miracle of you."

Is Olivia okay?

Yes, Olivia — now 12 years old — is building resilience.

She'll need help as she continues to grow up, but Idaho Youth Ranch is changing her life — thanks to staff... powered by donors... inspired by fundraisers like you!

 

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. X-ray of a Donor Newsletter -- "Know Your Bones"

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

 5. What to Put in Your Donor Newsletter

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