At the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg in 1863, keynote orator Edward Everett spoke for over two hours. Abraham Lincoln then spoke for barely two minutes. Later, Everett wrote to the president, "I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."
Out of interest or necessity, I've read a lot of books about nonprofit fundraising. Books for writers and designers, books for nonprofit staffers and board members, books for volunteers or one-person shops -- but like Everett at Gettysburg, none of those books, some quite long, have come quite "as near to the central idea" of direct-marketing fundraising (some haven't come anywhere *close* to as near) as Jeff Brooks has in the brief but powerful "The Fundraiser's Guide to Irresistible Communications."
Now, here is where I disclose that I know Jeff Brooks. In fact, we've worked together for some sixteen of the last 20 years, usually with him as creative director on projects where I was the writer. But this is a completely uncompensated endorsement. And what my vantage point lets me tell you is that the "real-world, field-tested strategies for raising more money" Jeff discloses here are the real thing, empirically verified by thousands of mail packages, e-mail appeals, radio specials, and other fundraising tools he has employed and mastered over the years.
Most of those other books go into more detail, with appendices of sample letters, chapters on creating a marketing schedule or long-term donor maintenance. But none of them capture the *spirit* of effective fundraising, or convey that spirit quite as entertainingly, as Jeff does. So much of what makes good fundraising effective is counterintuitive. The good fundraiser has to set aside her preferences about what looks best, or sounds best, or is the "right" way to describe a problem or a program or a solution. Instead, she must be willing to inhabit the mind of the donor, and be able speak to that donor in a special, even unique, way. Many of those other authors resent that fact. Jeff celebrates it. There are lots of great lessons in these pages (as I said, I've been doing this for years but my copy of this book is still filled with underlining and notes -- just like a good appeal letter!). But the most important lesson may be that whether we're in-house or work for a partner agency, we as fundraisers have the privilege of helping donors build the world they want to live in. Embrace that lesson, and put it to work in the ways Jeff describes, and your communications will be irresistible too.