Effective fundraising appeals require the convergence of right audience/prospect, strong and clear offer, and compelling creative.

You’ve probably heard the ’40/40/20′ direct marketing adage that attributes the contribution each of these elements makes thusly:

  • 40% of success due to right mailing list (proper targeting)
  • 40% due to offer (you are asking your prospect to do something, after all)
  • 20% due to creative (copywriters and designers don’t like to hear this!)

My personal version of this formula is more like ’80/10/10′.


My view is that if your message is in front of the right prospect (i.e., someone already well-disposed toward your proposition because you’ve done smart targeting homework), then the hardest part of the job is done in today’s cluttered communications environment. The main battle is for attention, and the best path to attention is relevance.

If you’re in front of the right prospect, all your offer and creative need to do is NOT drive the prospect away!

And certainly poorly conceived offers and creative can do just that. But it’s VERY rare that clever offers and creative will lead to an epiphany for the wrong prospect. Fundraising is not about converting.

Anyway, whatever your formula, of course it pays to present a strong offer, and present it well.

And Claire Axelrad has very sound advice on how to do that. Check out her 7 fundraising offer essentials as published via Network for Good.


P.S. Pushback on the formula welcome!

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This article was posted in: Copywriting / creative, Direct mail, Donor acquisition, Online fundraising and marketing.
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