Friendly Fundraising Letters – Six Easy Ways to Warm Up Your Next Donation Request

Friendly Fundraising Letters – Six Easy Ways to Warm Up Your Next Donation Request

Which would you read first (and right to the end): a typed, generic fundraising letter from the Red Cross or a hand-written letter from your grandma Hostetler in Muleshoe, TX? I’d choose the personal letter over the impersonal every time. And so would your donors.

The secret to making your impersonal fundraising letter personal is personalization. Which is hard when you don’t know your direct mail donor personally. So here are some ways to make an otherwise form letter friendlier when all you know about your donor is their name, address and giving history.

#1. Address your donor by name. 

Only strangers call me “friend.” Friends call me Alan, or Al, or Canuck. I’m more likely to pay attention to your letter when it begins, “Dear Alan.”

#2. Avoid formality. 

While we’re on the subject of appeal letter salutations, use a personal salutation rather than a formal one. Call me Alan and not Mr. Alan Sharpe. If you refer to me by my full name, I’ll think I’m reading a court summons.

You can also read: 6 Mistakes Fundraisers Make and How to Avoid Them

#3. Thank your donor for their last gift. 

As Mal Warwick says, every fundraising letter should thank your donor for her last gift. So say something like, “Thank you for your recent donation.” Let your donor know that you know she is a donor.

#4. Name the gift month, not the date. 

Your fundraising software will tell you that Jack Stutzman gave you a gift on 05/23/2010. You shouldn’t. Instead, thank Jack by the month. say something like, “Thank you for your recent gift, which you sent us this past May.”

#5. Name their region, not their city. 

Referring to the city where your donor lives is easy. It’s in your database. You know that. Your donor knows that. So instead of saying, “Living in Saskatoon as you do, I imagine…” say “Living on the Prairies as you do, I imagine…”

#6. Refer to your last letter. 

A quick way to establish rapport with a direct mail donor is to mention something you said in a recent letter. For example, “When I last wrote to you, back in April, you’ll remember that I described the great need for affordable retrovirals to combat AIDS in Lesotho.”

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