The Four Whys of great donor-centric copy

I used to have a problem when I started out in fundraising – I was trying to make my copy emotional, while also ticking all of the boxes to really speak to the donor’s desires to create change.

I’ve found that before I write copy, I picture having a quick conversation with my donor – and she’s only asking me four questions about my appeal. I call them the “four whys”:

Why this?
For most of us, this is the easiest part – you’re defining your problem for your donor. It’s also where most of us stop.

Just telling people what’s going on isn’t quite enough to completely nail an awesome fundraising appeal.

Why now?
This is where you need to add urgency – define why giving *now* is critical. You want to give your donor the drive to get out her wallet now, before the next thing in her life comes along and she forgets about you.

If there’s a deadline coming up, it’s usually a great chance to ramp up the urgency. Deadlines can include all sorts of stuff – big decisions being made, events… even the possibility of someone dying.

Why me?
You need to tell your donor how her donation will make a dent in solving your problem. Do this by telling her your plan – the specific things your organisation is going to do to resolve the issue.

One of the biggest issues that make our donor feel disconnected to our causes is that we’re making our problems too big – so big that it feels they can’t be solved. Make sure your solution will have a realistic impact that her £20 will help move forward, and then show that to your donor.

Why you? (I also like to call this So what?)
Answering this is where you describe why your organisation is the best positioned to tackle the problem.

This is your chance to show your connection to the issue.

You can do this simply by making sure you’re using the right signatory for appeal (someone with a strong personal reason for asking for donations, like an Exec Director or someone with family affected comes to mind), but you can also by describing your past successes (without taking away from the need to donate this time!) and describing the expertise you have in tackling the issue. Pretty often you don’t need to put this one front and centre, just further down in the appeal is ok.

Give the four whys a try next time you’re coming up with an appeal.