Fundraising letters have many advantages over other types of non-profit fundraising activities such as charity events, telephone solicitation, online fundraising, personal requests for donations, etc. Most importantly, a well-crafted fundraising letter gives you the equivalent of a one-to-one meeting with thousands of potential supporters for the cost of a postage stamp.
In this guest article, master fundraising copywriter Alan Sharpe explains these eight advantages through examples and comparisons to other types of fundraising. Read what he has to say and consider how effectively donation appeal letters work for so any different non-profit organizations. This time-tested method should always be part of your group’s fund raising strategy.
Eight Advantages of Fundraising Letters Over Other Methods
Fundraising letters are about as personal as you can get with a donor without meeting face to face or talking on the phone. Unlike special events, fundraising letters let you have a one-on-one “meeting” with each donor.
2. Can be passed along
Unlike personal visits, phone calls and special events, fundraising letters can reproduce themselves. Your appeal on paper has the opportunity to reach more than one donor, potentially doubling or tripling your efforts.
Member-Get-A-Member letters are a perfect example of this dynamic at work.
3. Can be tested
Because you can measure your direct mail results, you can also test your mailings. Test one package against another, one list against another, one ask against another, and you’ll discover what works and what fails. That way you’ll spend your dollars where they are most effective (without relying on guess work or hunches).
4. Measurable ROI
Direct mail is one of the best mediums for measuring the return on your investment.
Simply code your reply cards, and count how many return to you in the mail with a gift. With fundraising letters, you can know immediately–and exactly–how effective your mailing has been. Direct mail numbers never lie. Some simple calculations will tell you the following:
- Your response count (number of donors who responded)
- Your response rate (percentage of donors who responded)
- Average gift
- Gross income (before expenses are deducted)
- Net income (what’s left after expenses are deducted)
- Cost to raise a dollar
Unlike capital campaigns, major gift campaigns and special events, fundraising letter campaigns can be conceived, planned and launched within weeks instead of months.
Results (donations) are just as quick, usually arriving within days of your mailing.
6. Build your base of support
The majority of non-profit organizations receive 80 percent of their income from individuals. Since the average gift sent through the mail by an individual is $35, you need a broad base of individual donor support for your existence.
You will want to attract gifts from foundations, businesses and government, certainly, but for long-term survival you need to build a large following of individual supporters who send you small gifts year after year. The most cost-effective way to build and sustain this base of support is a comprehensive, well-planned, well-executed, annual fundraising letter program.
7. Strengthen relationships
Capital campaigns and banquets are excellent ways to raise awareness and funds, but they are costly and time-consuming. You cannot run one every month. And you cannot rely on them to strengthen the relationships you have with your supporters.
Fundraising letters and donor communications (such as newsletters), on the other hand, are cost-effective ways to build credibility, increase trust, inform donors and build relationships with your donors over time.
8. Reach donors anytime
For your telemarketing campaign to be effective, your donors have to be near their phone.
For your annual golf tournament to be profitable, your donors have to meet you at the green.
With a major gift campaign, your calendar and your donor’s calendar must have the same day free or you will never meet.
With fundraising letters, all you need to know is that your donor still lives at the address you have in your database. You don’t have to mail at the right time of day to catch them at home, or invite donors to meet you at their mailbox.
All you need to do is mail your appeal package to a valid address and then let the donor read (and respond to) your letter at their convenience.
Read more copy writing and appeal letter tips from Alan Sharpe at sharpecopy.com
Related Fundraising Letters
Fundraising Letter Envelopes: How To Make Them Irresistible – The best way to increase the response rate of your fundraising letters is by making your envelopes simply irresistible so that they get opened and read.
Don’t Start Your Fundraising Letters As A Stranger – One of the things you should never do with your appeal letters is address them to “Dear Friend” because it can cost you literally thousands of dollars in lost donations.
Write Fundraising Letters About People, Not Projects – Here’s why you should write your fundraising letter about people and not about projects: Because people care about other people and want to hear how their donations will improve the lives of others. They don’t want to hear details about how you do it, they want to see the positive results from their giving.
How to Write Fundraising Letters That Motivate Donors – Motivating strangers to give their money away is one of the hardest jobs around. It’s difficult to do face to face. And it’s even harder to do by mail.
Successful Fundraising Letters Share Eight Qualities – If you want your next fundraising letter to be successful and effective, there are certain nuances you must master to achieve the right results.
Write Fundraising Letters That Donors Can’t Resist – Master copywriter Alan Sharpe offers practical advice to non-profit groups for boosting the results of your appeal letters.
Where To Find Creative Ideas For Your Appeal Letters – Creativity is key for keeping your fundraising letters fresh and bringing in sufficient donations. So, where do you find creative ideas for your appeals? The answer, surprisingly, is right under your nose.
Four Goals of Every Renewal Fundraising Letter – A renewal letter is an important part of your annual fundraising efforts because you want to convince people on your active donor list to keep supporting your organization.