I took Journalism in college. Truth be told, it wasn't my favorite class. Yes, I love to write, but all those rules and structure! The AP Style Guide!
Over the years, I've learned to appreciate the learnings from the class and bend (and break) the rules for the type of writing I do.
At the core of the study Journalism is the Inverted Pyramid... which basically directs the writer to place the most important information at the beginning of a story.
Appeal writing for nonprofits has many similarities. There are important pieces of information that must be expressed ... and quickly!
Here is an inverted pyramid I developed specifically for nonprofits ... a flow we've found works well in organizing direct mail letters (and other communications). It's oversimplified, of course. But underperforming appeals usually lack one or more of the essential ingredients below.