Three Short Takes to Get You Thinking This Fall

Three Short Takes to Get You Thinking This Fall


By David Allen, Development for Conservation

Short Take #1 – Crafting newsletter headlines and email subject lines

“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.”

– David Ogilvy


In a blog post from last February, Claire Axelrod listed five ideas for writing more effective headlines and email subject lines. I suggest you read the entire article, 5 Proven Content Strategies to Convert More Nonprofit Customers to Donors, but here’s the gist:

  1. Testimonial – use a direct quote from a donor or a landowner to draw the reader into the article or email. “I just couldn’t imagine condos there”
  2. Cliffhanger – use enough of a story to make someone want more without giving away the whole thing. “By Noon on Friday, the Outcome Was Still Very Much in Doubt”
  3. Value Proposition – identify something that will be possible because the reader acts. “Land Trust Will Be There When the Next Landowner is Ready Too, with Your Help”
  4. Listicle – promise a specific number of things the main body of the article will deliver. “Three Short Takes to Get You Thinking This Fall”
  5. How-To – according to Claire, this one of the most popular phrases used in the most viral headlines. “How to Get the Most Out of a Rainy Saturday Afternoon”


Short Take #2 –

Grant Advisor is an online source of consumer information about real experiences with grantmakers. Had a great experience? Totally frustrated? Here’s a place where you can tell your story and learn from others.

For everyone who is looking ahead to looming grant deadlines this fall, this seems like it should be a must read before you begin.

In a recent blog post, Vu Le, Nonprofit AF, urges everyone to use it as a source of information, but also to make sure you add content as well.

GrantAdvisor is still in its pilot phase, so there may likely be a glitch here and there. Please test it out and contact admin with any feedback you have about how to make the site better and more helpful to everyone in the field. Right now, marketing efforts are focused on Minnesota and California, but anyone in the US can write reviews, and any foundation with five reviews in any state will go live.”


Short Take #3 – Saturation Mail

Two years ago, I wrote about sending mail to everyone within a relatively small area – a single township for example, or the carrier routes surrounding a project site. (See Saturation Mail)

I’ve promised many of you actual numbers from a project where I was involved, and I have just completed such a project – it actually goes into the mail tomorrow (Wednesday).

We mailed a colorful single sheet of white newsprint – 18” X 22”. We provided a camera-ready pdf and the printer was able to print directly from it. In other words, we incurred no design costs.

We printed 20,000 copies; just shy of 19,000 will be delivered with the rest being available for distribution at events and so on.

The total costs were:

  • $       50 – Set-up
  • $    990 – Printing
  • $ 1,750 – Postage
  • $2,790 – TOTAL, or about 15 cents each

We plan to mail the exact same piece again in April, 2018, and then a third time in December.

I’ll let you know what happens.




PS: If you have considered or are considering donor research programs to help you find major gift and/or planned gift candidates, ask me about Donor Search.


Photo by Drew Burrows courtesy of

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