Examing fundraising letters and emails to help you make the right choice for your group or organization.
As a rule of thumb, the more personal the correspondence, the better. That said, it’s not necessarily a given that you should always be choosing fundraising letters over email. The two forms of communication both have their benefits as well as their downsides, so it’s important to understand how and when each can benefit (or hurt) your fundraising efforts before making a choice.
Letters can be very powerful in reaching out to donors and potential donors because a fundraising letter is a physical, tangible request for help that can be put directly into the hands of those you’re reaching out to.
They also offer great opportunity for personalization because even if they are typed as opposed to handwritten, you can include your handwritten signature to show the recipient that you’ve literally put your hand into your correspondence.
Additionally, you can include brochures, photographs, handwritten notes and other such things that don’t always translate over to the email world.
The downside is that letters can be costly. Postage can add up fast and then there’s the cost of envelopes, paper and printing.
Letters can also be time consuming. Once your letter is written you’ll need to add each recipient’s name in the greeting to take advantage of personalization, and sign each one. You’ll also need to address envelopes, match letters with envelopes, seal them, stamp them and send.
They’re low cost, fast and easy! Need I say more? And your personalization options aren’t too limited either. You can easily customize emails with the recipient’s name, and even add your signature. It’s also easy to include photos or attach documents.
As an added bonus, emails are a “greener” communication choice because they don’t use paper.
An email is not as personal as a letter because it doesn’t put something into your donor’s hand. Once the email is read, the window is closed and there is nothing left on their desk as a reminder. It’s left up to the donor to remember and revisit the email.
What to do?
If the time and cost of letters is going to significantly cut into your organization’s main goals, email is a good choice. To enhance the personal factor, follow up with phone calls, or send letters to your biggest or most committed donors only rather than your whole list (with an email to your entire list, of course).
If you have the resources, a great idea is to combine the two. Send a letter and follow it up a week or two later with an email.