Have you ever gotten one of those four or five-page fund raising letters in the mail? Have you ever read the thing the entire way through?
According to Frank Dickerson, who wrote a dissertation on how effectively fund raisers communicated with their audience, those four or five-page letters are even less interesting than government documents.
So, what can fund raisers do to capture our interest when sending out these appeal letters?
Here are 5 things that can instantly improve fund raising letters (or any similar communication, for that matter):
1. Focus on telling compelling, real stories.
Dickerson says: “For a fundraiser, the weight of raising money rest squarely on the power of words. Yes, there are those occasions when a person visits a charity, or sees a video about its work. But most potential donors decide to give based on what they read. And unfortunately, what they read is usually not that good.”
2. Choose your words wisely.
Dickerson says: “Fund-raising texts sounded cold and detached like doctoral dissertations rather than warm and friendly like personal conversations.”
3. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.
No one wants to read four or five pages of incomprehensible gibberish just to get to the end and be asked to give money. This is especially true if it’s for a cause that they haven’t made an emotional connection to.
Instead, write a story that hits home for the reader right away with an “ask” at the end. And do it all on one page. And use pictures to tell the story, too.
4. Make it memorable and remarkable.
Seth Godin said in his book Purple Cow that to be remarkable you have to be remarked about. Simply put, you’d remember a purple cow if you saw one in a pasture as you drove by. You remember certain ads and certain messages, like the 1984 Apple ad or Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. There’s a reason. They have that special quality that makes them memorable and remarkable. And they were created out of passion for something, not because they had to be done. Purple Cows are about passion.
5. When it comes right down to it, the goal for fundraisers is to raise funds. To do that, the best tip I can give is to infuse fund raising writing with the passion for the cause.