Marc Pitman reports:
"No matter how digitally savvy you are, if you want to be successful in fundraising you need to come to grips with the fact that direct mail fundraising letters...still work...Fundraising works best when it’s one person writing to another person. So who is the one person that will be writing this letter? The Director of Development? The Executive Director or CEO? The Chair of the Board?...Studies show that statistics kill fundraising results. Engaging the part of the brain that pours over figures and pie charts actually suppresses the part of the brain that makes donation decisions...It helps to imagine yourself having coffee with the one donor you’re writing to. What would you tell that donor? Put that on paper...Don’t try to write in complete sentences or in grammatically correct English...It’s important to make your fundraising [appear] skimmable. Something people can scan and get the gist of in seconds. So judiciously use bold and italic and even underlines to help get the message across...One of the biggest mistakes nonprofits make is letting English majors write their letters. An even bigger one is writing the type of fundraising appeal you’d like to receive. Chances are very good that you aren’t your perfect donor. This is especially important when it comes to writing a P.S. So many nonprofit leaders resist using them...But decades of eye motion studies show that it is the first part of the fundraising letter a donor reads after their name. So sum up your entire message — the ask, the deadline, and the compelling call to action — in the 2 to 3 sentences of a post script...The envelope is an important part of the fundraising letter and overall fundraising package. After all, you need to design it in a way that gets the donor to actually open it. So you need to consider: Will you use a teaser from the story on it? Will you have red letters (like a stamp) saying 'Emergency Appeal' or something similar on it? Or will you leave the envelope blank except for addresses? All these techniques have worked successfully. You need to test them out for yourself to see which is most effective for your donor prospects...Sending a fundraising letter without a reply device is a waste of money. So think about how you’ll craft this. Most nonprofits tend to use a slip of paper or card stock with options on it...When it comes to options, less is more. Neuroscience shows that people like 3-4 options. But more than that (like adding planned giving options on an annual fund appeal) causes their mind to shut down...For what it’s worth, direct mail studies show your best gift prospects are the people that most recently gave. Pulling people from mailings simply because they made a gift this calendar year can be detrimental to your fundraising effort. Counterintuitive but true. Make sure to put some good thought into the list you’ll be sending your fundraising appeal to...A simple, special page dedicated solely to collecting money from this fundraising appeal is best. Having one general online donation form is a bad idea. It’s pretty simple to create a page that has the look and feel of the direct mail fundraising letter. So do it. Design it to have a visual tie-in with the buck slip from the letter but to also be able to stand alone if people are responding from links in social media or email. Don’t leave out the online giving form as part of your direct mail process. Recent studies indicate that one of the best ways to drive online giving is to send a letter!"
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