Here are four fundraising letter tips to keep in mind when writing your next appeal letter. You need to address your recipient properly, grab their attention right away, convey the need facing real people, and ask for their help by painting a mental picture of what the future holds for those in need.
Fundraising letter expert Alan Sharpe offers these four succinct tips based on his decades of crafting donation request letters for some of the biggest non-profit organizations in the world, including Doctors Without Borders and Habitat For Humanity. Read on and notice how vividly Alan gets his message across.
How to Write a Direct Mail Fundraising Letter (Four Tips)
1. Address your reader as a friend, not as “Friend.”
When was the last time you received a letter from someone dear to you, addressing you as “Dear Friend?” Never, right? The days of the Dear Friend letter are dead.
I heard recently of a chairman of the board of a national charity who has given his charity millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of his time, yet he still receives fundraising appeals from this charity addressing him as “Dear Friend.” Ouch.
2. Arrest attention with an opening that resonates with your donors.
Assume your reader is standing over a trash can with a stack of today’s mail, reading the opening sentence of each letter before deciding its fate. You have only a few seconds to grab the reader’s interest. So make it a zinger.
Here are two openings for the same non-profit. Which one grabs your attention and makes you want to read on?
Opening 1: “I am writing to you to ask if you would like to support a low-income housing building project in your neighborhood.”
Opening 2: “If I invited you to walk over to your neighbor’s house with a bundle of roof shingles under your arm as a gift, what would you do?”
3. Put flesh and bones on your need.
One truth in fundraising is that people give to people to help people. So always describe your need in terms of people, not programs, not ministry, not money.
INSTEAD OF SAYING . . . We operate three vans.
SAY . . . The three vans that we use for emergency medical relief play a vital role in saving lives throughout the year.
INSTEAD OF SAYING .. . Essential medicines in many countries are not affordable.
SAY . .. Phillip Mbago is dying from a treatable disease for no other reason than this—he can’t afford his cure.
4. Ask for funds by painting a picture.
Don’t just ask for a donation. Show your readers how their donations will make a difference.
Instead of saying, “Send a gift today,” say, “Your gift to Habitat for Humanity today means that another family will soon move into a simple, decent, affordable home—thanks to you.”
Read more copy writing and appeal letter tips from Alan Sharpe at sharpecopy.com
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