Hi! How are you? What's up with this weather lately?
That's how a lot of normal conversations start. We do that because it's easy to talk about inconsequential things while we establish connection and gage the mood before we get to our real topics.
Effective direct mail or email fundraising isn't like this. It doesn't dally around, but gets suddenly to the topic at hand -- which is your money is needed. It tells donors exactly what it wants them to do.
This might make you uncomfortable, because it's unlike conversation. Maybe it feels bossy and aggressive. Or like you're treating donors as simpletons.
Get used to it. In fundraising, that greasing-the-skids stuff can cost you.
Direct mail, email, and other ways we reach people directly but not personally are interruptions. We don't have time to circle around for a while before getting to the point. A direct-mail envelope is in a recipient's hand for a few seconds before it's either kept or trashed. An email is under consideration for even less time.
If you make it past that stage, you still have just seconds to make your point.
So get to the point. Tell them why you're showing up unannounced in their mailbox or inbox.
Ask immediately. Then tell a story and ask again. Compliment your donor's vision and wonderfulness. Then ask again. Don't do anything that's not connected to your ask.
That's how powerful fundraising works.