A confession: I wasn’t sure what to write about this week. A dear friend suggested I put the components of a good appeal in one post. I hope it’s helpful. And I hope you’ll use the comments to chime in. I’m sure you have some good ideas to add!
A strong case
A compelling, urgent problem the donor can help solve.
An emotional story
People make giving decisions with their emotions. Stories are the best way to ignite those emotions. Tell a story. Go ahead and use some statistics – they can help support the emotional decision. But don’t depend on numbers to do your heavy lifting.
A specific ask
Don’t ask for “help”. Be specific. Do you need the donor to give you $120 to buy a week’s groceries? Do you need the donor to commit to a monthly gift? The more you can tie the ask to the solution, the stronger it will be. (Hint: don’t round the numbers… use the real thing – it’s more believable).
Easy to read
Don’t kill your great case by squeezing your appeal. Give it room. If it takes one page in a small point size, scale it up. You’ll still need to mail the other side of the paper – you might as well put it to work.
Short words, short sentences, short paragraphs. In other words, keep it simple.
Your reader should feel the appeal speaks to her, personally. That she is the person who can do something about the problem. That SHE, personally, needs to respond. You don’t get there by addressing the letter to “Dear Friend”. Use as much personalization as you can. Use her name. Mention her last gift or a program area you know she’s particularly interested in. Create a donor profile, and write your letter to that one person.
Be sure your reader knows that you’re grateful. If she’s given before, mention that, and thank her. If she hasn’t given, thank her for being a kind person. (She’s reading your letter, isn’t she?) Flattery works. Go ahead and be a bit assumptive – thank your reader for the gift she’s going to make. Emphasize your gratitude and nurture your reader’s better nature by mentioning qualities like kindness and caring.
What would you add? Please share in the comments.