The Jerry Huntsinger tutorials

This special showcase within the direct mail section of SOFII comprises a complete series of tutorials from the dean of direct mail fundraising, the USA’s legendary Jerry Huntsinger. In 57 parts plus supporting materials, this insightful, practical series is building, over time, into the complete step-by-step guide to direct mail fundraising.

Tutorial 26: how to make a short letter work.

by Jerry Huntsinger

Find out how to write successful short letters with these 10 helpful rules.

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Tutorial 25: 22 ideas for keeping your reader moving on.

by Jerry Huntsinger

Keep in mind these principles when you write long letters.

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Tutorial 24: how to write a long letter.

by Jerry Huntsinger

Extensive testing by a wide variety of charities shows that long copy wins most of the time, especially for prospect mail and emotional house appeals. Of course, there are exceptions and it’s always best to test. Read more here.

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Tutorial 23: beware the fatal disease of one-sidedness.

by Jerry Huntsinger

In this amusing, yet thought-provoking article, Jerry comments on a not-so-new affliction that affects many fundraisers…are you one of them?

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Tutorial 22: whatever happened to real stories about real people?

by Jerry Huntsinger

You are probably going to have more successes than failures if you begin most of your letters with an illustration. Your readers are usually in neutral when the letter is being scanned; but once they get involved in the story, then suddenly you have captured their attention.

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Tutorial 21: ‘really, it just doesn’t sound like me’.

by Jerry Huntsinger

Once upon a time I wrote a letter for the president of a nonprofit organisation and I thought it turned out rather well – that is, until she sent me this crisp critique: ‘I really don’t like this letter because it just doesn’t sound like me.’ Sigh. How many times have I heard that? So, dutifully, I called her and asked: ‘What do you sound like?’ She paused.

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Tutorial 20 - paragraphs: forget school English.

by Jerry Huntsinger

You were taught in school that a proper paragraph had a beginning, a middle and an end. It was a self-contained idea. And that’s true, when you write a school exam.

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Tutorial 19: master grammar and write for action.

by Jerry Huntsinger

As a writer, you need to understand the basic parts of speech – verbs, nouns, objects, adjectives, adverbs, articles, and so on. But you don’t have to worry about the structure of a sentence. Just remember that every sentence usually has a subject, a verb and an object. ‘The house is red’: article, subject, verb, object.

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Tutorial 18: magic words: the formula for success.

by Jerry Huntsinger

What do Shakespeare, the Bible, the Gettysburg Address and a successful fundraising letter have in common? Magic words. And what makes certain words magic? Their length. Any common word of five letters or less is magic. Therein lies a formula for success.

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Tutorial 17: write the way you speak: 10 suggestions.

by Jerry Huntsinger

Psycho-copy is not crazy copy. I’m not always sure how to communicate the deeper levels of a ‘warm and personal’ style to letter writers. Perhaps it has to be caught, rather than taught.

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Major contributors to this section

Jerry Huntsinger

Jerry Huntsinger is revered in direct marketing circles as the dean of direct mail. 

Some years back Jerry gifted his archive of direct mail tutorials to SOFII and we’ve been serialising them ever since. All 50-plus are gems. Together, they add up to a complete ‘how-to’ guide to everything you need to know about direct mail fundraising.

These tutorials are edited and presented by Gwen Chapman.

Gwen_Chapman.jpg#asset:8990:urlGwen Chapman is a passionate advocate for donor-centric fundraising. She is a senior consultant with international experience in the non-profit sector in Canada, the United States, the UK and South Africa. She explains the importance to these tutorials here.

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