A good fundraising letter could mean big profits for your fundraising campaign, and a good fundraising letter is one that gets attention. Here are a few simple tricks of the trade to help you succeed.
In today’s world of cell phones, Blackberries, iPods, digital TV and SPAM, people only read letters that are different and stand out. Letters must be personal, relevant and centered around what’s in it for the reader. That goes for fundraising letters too.
So how do you get your reader’s attention? First of all, perhaps you can create a different looking fundraising letter. Instead of your standard 8 ½” x 11” white paper, perhaps you can make it a bit bigger or smaller? Perhaps you can pick a paper with some color and a different texture? A bit more expensive you might say? Nonsense. You can purchase this kind of paper at very cheap prices at the dollar store or Wal-Mart. Just by doing this, you are immediately sending out a “different” kind of fundraising letter.
Now, as to the content of your letter, it is important that you address the reader as your friend. As with anything else, you need to draw the reader into your cause by writing things such as, “If you are like me, you care deeply about..”, or “Doesn’t it bother you when you see…” If the reader has donated in the past, you need to address what they have done already. For instance, “Your donation of $100 last year meant a lot to us. People like you are the backbone of our organization.”
Describe what you want to do next. This is the “meat” of your fundraising letter. You need to identify a critical need and how your organization is addressing that need. Tell your reader your goal: what you are going to do, as well as why and how you are going to do it.
The next step is to solicit the contribution. Be specific and straightforward. “Send your gift of $25, $50 or $100. Every penny helps.” Or offer a monthly credit card option charge, “Only $5 a month, comes to a very much needed $60 a year…” Adding a tangible or intangible incentive provides a reason for the reader to act. Here’s an example of a tangible benefit: “We have a donor who will give $1 for every dollar we are able to raise.” And an example of an intangible incentive: “Imagine the feeling you will get knowing you will be able to help provide food to a hungry child.”
Adding an insert or a photo also helps bring attention to your cause. For instance, if you are raising funds to buy new equipment for a school, show a picture of the current deteriorated equipment. As you know, a picture is worth 1000 words, so it could help people open up their hearts…and their pockets.
Thank the reader for taking the time to consider your cause and leave a positive feeling in his/her mind. Don’t forget to sign the letter! You want to make the letter as personal as possible. You can also use a “P.S.” to add an additional incentive to act immediately. For example, “P.S. In order to quickly help as many children as possible, please be as generous as you can, and use the enclosed envelope to send your donation today. Thank you so much for your help, it is extremely appreciated.”
Believe it or not, the percentage of response one can get from a direct mail appeal is 1 to 2%. By creating a “different” kind of fundraising letter, you will be able to gain donors and help build a good reputation for your organization. And you never know; the reader might not be able to donate this year, but might next year. Or perhaps they know of someone else that will be able to donate, and will pass your “different” fundraising letter along.