“What grade level do you write to?” A lesson in a Gratitude Report

August 12, 2020

During this week’s MotivateMonday Q&A session featuring John Lepp, Partner at Agents of Good, Ann asked, “What grade level do you write to?”

It’s a great question and one we’ve been asked time and time again. As John noted, we typically aim to keep the grade reading level for donor communications between grades 4 and 6. John specifically pointed to a gratitude report created by Agents of Good that fell roughly within the 1-2 grade range. This reading level helped the gratitude report speak very clearly to their mission.

Remember, the lower the grade level, the faster and easier it is for your supporter to read it. There is a tendency to believe that this is a form of “dumbing things down,” when, in reality, you’re making it easier for your donor to not only read the report but to make a gift as well. Even those readers who read at much higher reading levels will respond best to copy written at a lower grade level.

And a Gratitude Report plays a major role in developing your organization’s Simple Development Systems’ Donor Attraction Model.

Check out this gratitude report released several years ago. Notice the beautifully simple language. Notice how it tells a wonderful story, and how it truly brings supporters into the mission. It clearly communicates both donor impact and how donors are valued partners in this nonprofit’s work and mission. And isn’t that how we all want our donors to feel?


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