nonprofit audience's attention

How-To Write a Stellar Opening Statement That Will Draw Your Nonprofit Audience’s Attention in Immediately 

What is the difference between content that captures your nonprofit audience’s attention and draws them in and content that people just scroll past or send to “spam?” It’s all about the hook. A hook is your opener. It’s the attention grabber that entices your listener or reader to want to know more. But how do you create e-mail subject lines, opening sentences, or social media posts that will stop your audience in their tracks? 

Think about the things that capture your nonprofit audience’s attention. A hook should make your audience want to know more. Our minds are curious things and the more you can pique that curiosity quickly, the more likely it is that your audience will want to engage. 

There are several approaches you can take to create a good hook. A good hook should contain one of the following. 

  1. An emotional pull
  2. A surprising statistic or information 
  3. A suspenseful statement or question raised

An Emotional Pull

How can you include emotion right off the bat? Introducing emotion quickly will help activate your audience’s empathy and put them in the right mindset to consume your content. Remember, as much as we all like to believe humans always make carefully calculated decisions, people act on emotion. 

You may start your content by saying something like… 

“Many of us will never know the fear of not knowing whether or not we will be able to pay our rent…” 

or

“It’s hard to describe the joy felt when watching a stray find their forever family…” 

You will obviously want to tailor the emotions to your mission. Try making a list of emotions that could be tied to your organization and those you serve. What have you felt or experienced within your organization? What do those you serve feel on a regular basis? How do the emotions change over time due to the work your organization does? How can you communicate the emotions through your opening sentence?

A Surprising Fact or Information 

Do you have any shocking facts or stats you can share with your audience right away? Consider opening your next newsletter or event appeal speech with a jaw-dropping statement. 

“Over 1.5 billion people don’t have access to clean and safe water.”

16,000 whales have been murdered every year for 83 consecutive years.”

Make sure the statement or fact is relative to your mission or message. Providing interesting content that informs will help your audience feel that they are getting value from you and draw them in right away.

A Suspenseful Statement or Question

Consider how you can introduce your audience to a problem right away. Storytelling 101 tells us that every good story has a struggle. In fact, the greater the struggle, the greater the story. Telling the audience about an issue or problem to be solved right up front will make them want to know the solution. 

For example:

“When schools closed during the pandemic, many children lost access to their one meal of the day – lunch. Most didn’t know where their next meal would come from.”

PRO TIP: If you want to increase your e-mail open rates, consider that your first hook is your subject line. Ask yourself how you can add an element of curiosity or suspense to the subject before your audience even opens your content. Giving all the information in the subject line might result in a delete rather than an open.

Make sure you have answered any questions that were raised during your hook to satisfy your audience by the end of your story or content. If you can show your audience how you provided a solution to the problem you raised, they will leave feeling pleased and dare we say, inspired. 

Remember, once you’ve grabbed your nonprofit audience’s attention, you will want to keep it. Make sure you do this by continuing to provide valuable insight, answers, and information related to the hook. 

Madison Gonzalez

Madison Gonzalez

Advancement Director at Morning Light, Inc.
Madison Gonzalez is a National Public Speaker, Storyteller of the Year Award-Winner, Best-Selling Author of Dear Mirror, Events Manager, and Published Poet. She is also the Advancement Director at Morning Light, Inc., and Indianapolis-based nonprofit that fosters community programs in Indiana for the terminally ill, seniors, families and the home-bound. As a storytelling coach and consultant, it is her mission to empower others to share their stories for impact and income. Madison can be reached at madison@toldcoaching.com.
Madison Gonzalez