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The Grade School Writing Level

Believe it or not, the best fundraising appeals are those written at the sixth-to-eighth grade levels. You want your appeal letters to be as easy to comprehend as possible. Items written in the sixth-to-eighth grade levels can be read quickly and comprehended well by adult readers.

We’re not saying that you need to “talk down” to your educated readers. Instead, consider it your attempt at being courteous to your readers... sort of like not mumbling when you talk.

The most intellectual, highly educated people will appreciate and respond to appeals that are easy to read and comprehend. Our years of experience and research give us clues as to why this is so.

Flesch-Kincaid does grade level research. They use sentence length and the number of three-syllable words in a given document to calculate an appropriate grade level rating. Once an author exceeds the eighth grade rating, their work starts to take extra concentration. You don’t want this to occur when your reader gets home from work and opens their mail. A reader who is tired or in a hurry, Flesch-Kincaid has found, will have trouble comprehending and be more likely to skim or just stop reading altogether.

Simply put, the higher up the grade level your writing style climbs, the harder it is to read.

There’s no one forcing your donors or prospects to read your appeal letters or other communications. If they have to struggle to figure out the point you’re trying to make, the chances are great that they’ll just stop reading – and then stop responding.

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