By: Julia Archer, Redstart Creative
Fall is right around the corner. Now is the perfect time to start creating an inspiring fall fundraising appeal letter to your potential donors. Direct mail is one of the most important marketing touches during the year. Think of your appeal letter like making a good impression on a first date: make a good one so you can see that person again. Your appeal is a chance to: (1) connect with new donors, and (2) re-connect with recurring donors. You want to engage and inspire donors to act, so spending time on the letter’s quality is extremely important.
Here are 5 tips for creating fall fundraising direct mail that drives your readers to donate:
- Tell your story. Telling your story is something we talk about often and for good reason. People do not react to facts; they react to stories. You want to bring out your readers’ emotions when they see your appeal. Create meaningful copy that has the power to convey your mission in an inspiring way. To humanize your message, include personal stories of people your nonprofit has helped. Create an infographic to reinforce your story in a visual way, accompanied by statistics, if you have them. Just don’t use too many, since studies show statistics and numbers distract from the stories.
- Be transparent about where the donations are going. Include information that specifically tells your readers how their donation will be spent. For example, Catholic Charities allows their monthly donors to choose which campaign their donation amount will fund. Donors have several options such as their Neighbors In Need Fund. Additionally, donors can choose to direct their donation where it is needed most. Citing an exact dollar amount needed to reach a certain goal increases the likelihood of a donation because of the transparency. This makes it much easier for donors to picture how their donation will actually be making a difference for your cause.
- Eliminate doubts. Directly address any questions your potential donors might have about donating. It’s good practice to include an FAQ in your appeal (or link to your website) that discusses any hesitations or specific questions potential donors may have that might stop them from donating. (For example: What are the ways that they can donate? If they can’t contribute financially but still want to help, are there volunteer options?)
- Coffee shop talk. When writing the copy, remember to use a personal tone. The overall tone and messaging of your letter should be friendly, as if you were talking to a friend in a coffee shop about your cause. Formality in appeals can turn people away and make them feel distanced. The goal is to lessen the gap between you and your donors. Use informal pronouns like “we,” “you” and “I” throughout your direct mail.
- Create an appealing design. People are visual by nature. Creating a vibrant, easy-to-read and well-designed direct mail piece is extremely important for your best results. For example, something as seemingly insignificant as the wrong font size can throw off a donor from donating. Everything from the actual letter to the envelope or email subject line plays into whether or not someone will donate, so it’s extremely important to get it right.
We understand that creating fall fundraising appeals can be stressful, so we’d like to help. Contact us here for more information.