WRITE Right – Raise More!

by Marcy Heim on June 23, 2021

Your written word has power ONLY when it is read, remembered and/or acted on. With your words you lift up, inform, share, tear down, heal, love, inspire and teach.

As you build relationships with current and prospective major givers, what is important in your writing – handwritten, letter, email, text whatever?  Here are 10 tips…for this time, and really all times.

Marcy’s 10 Tips to get read by your major givers.

AND – a bonus – here are a couple of Before & After Examples

1.    It is about them – not you.

Make it about them, not you or your organization. Connect them DIRECTLY to your results.  “You take Science to rural Wyoming.”  NOT “With your help we take Science to rural Wyoming.”  Change as many “we” and “I” s to “you” and “your.”

2.    Write in simple language.

writing on computer

Emails written at a 3rd grade level gets 36% more opens than those written at high school or college. It’s not that folks aren’t smart enough for higher level writing, it’s about making the message easy to grasp with a quick read. This is true for all types of writing. Using academic sounding “big words” will not bring people closer. In fact, trust will form more quickly when you write so that they can easily get it. No vegetable soup – keep the initials out of it!

3.    Write so they can skim.

In a written letter, an email, or handwritten note, Bold your key points.  Make sure that if only the bold text is read it tells the whole message as highlights.

4.    Use a three sentence ask for what you need – the appointment, the money, to continue the conversation….

You will create so much more buy-in when you artfully ask for their consideration using the 3-sentence ask process.  www.marcyheim.com/askworksheet

5.    Talk WITH them as a dear friend.

Write as if you were talking with someone you know well – write TO that person – write to someone you care about when you are writing to any major donor. When you are done, read your letter, email, text OUT LOUD – are you talking with them or AT them?

6.    Be compelling with your subject lines and email/letter openers.

Think of your writing like a great meal – you want a fresh amazing salad and a great dessert. “Thought of you today.” “A big change at the XYZ.” “A new way you can help.”

Better emails = higher open + response rates = more dollars raised.

7.    ASK on-line, in emails, in texts.

Since the isolation of 2020-21, people of all ages, but especially seniors and high schoolers, are more willing to look at money topics on-line – banking, investing – PRIOR to making decisions. You can get into money talk anywhere – with in person being one of many options.

online donations increased

Total online revenue grew by 32% in 2020. Hunger and Poverty groups reported a stunning 173% increase in online revenue over the previous year. We have shifted to on-line and it’s here to stay. (https://mrbenchmarks.com/charts/fundraising)

Make your call-to-action at least 3 times if possible.

8.    Be authentic and warm.

Especially now, your genuineness and sincere warmth should radiate from your email, letter, handwritten note or text. Find your voice. Find your comfort level being vulnerable.

9.    Tell stories effectively.

In the Science of Storytelling, Will Storr shares negative stories get read 13% more than neutral, but positive stories get read 15% over neutral ones.  Presenting general stats next to a personal story decreases giving (U of Penn study). It is not about drama with stories, but rather that they show the problem, your solution and how the donor can move that solution forward. Big donors want big visions – Major Donors want movement – forward and onward, drop the pandemic whining.

10.  End with WHAT THE MONEY WILL DO and what’s next – Not how to reach you.

You write a great letter, email…and end with “You can reach me at…”  Instead END with what their gift will do powerfully and a specific time you will follow up.  You can put your contact info in the PS. Be sure to always have a clear next step that YOU WILL BE TAKING!

AND – a bonus – here are a couple of Before & After Examples 

world and hands

This past year, I encouraged my clients to keep connecting, keep sharing and keep asking.  People responded with a heart-swelling urge to help – pushing back on the uncertainty, fear, and chaos that was a daily reality. We found compassion, empathy and generosity. No, this reaction was not universal – but remember, “What you focus on you grow.” I chose to focus on the power and joy of giving.

Engaging others

Let’s never forget that every reader can control how they react to our words. It’s always their choice to believe, take action, roll their eyes, or just stop reading. Success in major giving comes from forming a relationship that is real and lasting. Every time you appear in their mailbox, inbox or phone feed, you are a welcome site! May you enjoy seeing the Artful Action come into your inbox! Partnering with you to create more success in your fundraising and your life is my calling. May my words serve to lift you up. You are a gift to this world. Thank you!

Invest in JOY®


Let me hear you…”I love Tech!”

by Marcy Heim on June 9, 2021

Do you enjoy that zoom feature that lets us “improve our appearance” on zoom?  Works great  – try it if you haven’t yet.

You have a tremendous opportunity now to rebuild your life as we re-enter from the Land of Covid.  Whether you continued to come into the office this past year, spent months remote, or are still remote, the changes around us as colleagues, friends and family re-adjust impacts how we ALL work together- again.

One thing I know for sure – we befriended technology and it is here to stay!

This week I was honored to present the opening keynote, “Fear less, Raise more, SHINE ON!” at the APF Symposium in California.   It was a terrific experience and combined the talents of leadership from AFP San Fernando Valley, Santa Barbara & Venture Counties.

Studio on the road

Great to be in California?  Actually, I delivered the keynote from Story City, Iowa – a town with a bit over 3000 folks at the Comfort Inn.  The staff there led by Manager Nick, placed me in the room closest to the router. I hauled my entire desktop, monitor, speakers, ring light, backdrop screen and all the power cords and extension cords with me and created my professional looking space from which to share my message. 

Studio on the road

It was quite an experience and I came away feeling empowered with my new found skill in using tech.  As we come together again, know that using technology in our work is here to stay.

Studio on the road

Here are my key messages around this.

  1. Combining live events with special virtual experiences gives us a chance to reach different folks and THAT means better access for development officers with board and major donors as they partner with leadership on the virtual sessions.
  2. Board meetings with virtual access will give us better attendance but demand that we have more one-on-one to build more authentic relationships with our board members.
  3. Checking on virtual meeting preferences will be part of understanding your givers communications preferences. As you begin new relationships I encourage you to discover at the first conversation how they prefer to hear from you – text, email, phone, in person.  Add zoom and other virtual platforms to that list!
  4. Creating new donor relationships will take deeper attention to their “modus operandi.”  The Kolbe test measures our relationship to data, systems, risk and processes. Get your own Kolbe results with “test A” at Kolbe.com and also consider that your team, board and donors may prefer to have a screen separating them.
  5. Asks and other money conversations using texts, email, phone and zoom will be common.  One of my clients shared she had just texted two pledge reminders out – and both replied they would take care of it – thanks.
  6. Building trust will require even higher follow through, clarity and consistency. You are going to have to pay close attention to setting up specific actions and completing them well to earn trust. Trust is at an all-time low and it’s our job to rekindle it for our work with our donors by doing what we say we are going to do.Marcy on Zoom
  7. Traditional methods will stand out. In person contacts will be cherished by most – even those who still are mainly remote or reluctant to meet yet. Drop off that loaf of bread, bag of chocolate chip cookies etc. with the update letter about your mission. Isolation is not good for the human spirit.
  8. There’s going to be little patience with tech reluctance. If you want to go back to before all the tech – sorry – not going to happen.  Adopt a mindset that you like it.
Work is anywhere now.

These times are exciting and unclear.  Go about your days with as much patience and compassion as you can muster for others.  Give a super large dose to yourself!  The struggles others have adjusting now can sometimes surface in frustration and unkind comments that can hurt you.  The more you love yourself right now the more you can respond with grace and compassion.

Invest in JOY®


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Luv the Flub

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Have you ever screwed up? Have you ever failed? Of course you have. And it can be terrifying. Will you be forgiven? Will you lose your job? Can this be fixed? As you head into March and the start of year two of these remarkable times, you need to be growing major giving relationships, hosting […]

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Roses are Red

February 10, 2021

Script for sending Valentine’s love! It’s tough to play Euchre with only 3…almost impossible, in fact. Bluntly then, when someone dies you generally replace the “couple” with another “couple.”  I mean, it takes 4 to play the card game.  And so begins the challenging, and lonely, journey of being just one. And left out. As […]

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