Fundraising,  Nonprofits

Make Your Donation Letters Work

5-reasons-letters-not-working---Pinterest-735x735Increase the response rate to your appeal letters with these tips.

Discouraged by the low response rate to your last call for donation letter? There has to be a good reason – or 5 – that this is the case. We’ve taken a look at the 5 most common mistakes made in donation appeal letters and found solutions for  fixing them.

  1. Not writing to your target audience

Knowing and understanding your target audience is key. Do your best to put yourself in their shoes. Think about their likes and dislikes and tailor your letter specifically to that demographic.  It is important to know know the average age, household income and even the gender of your audience. This isn’t always easy. It takes research and time.

Consider how your demographic things and what emotionally motivates them. Once you understand the demographic, use words that will appeal to them in order to develop an emotional connection. Statements that start, “Imagine if your child” or “How would you feel if your wife” are attention grabbers.

  1. There is no clear call to action

If your potential donors don’t know what to do or how to do it, they aren’t able to. There is no need to beat around the bush. Use the words “donate” or “contribute” in your letter.

Lay out the request including how to respond in a clear manner. The easier it is to respond, the more likely they will. For example, “Please become a part of the biggest movement to cure breast cancer in the US, and help save lives.  Go to www.YourWebsite.com and make your donation today.”

Use specific words such as “today” and “right now” so that the potential donor will take immediate action and not put your request off to the side.

  1. Your letter isn’t focused on the donor

Is the word “you” used in your letter enough? Chances are, it’s not. The word “you” is an emotional trigger. Using it often in your letter will help establish a connection with your potential donor. By the end of the first paragraph, your reader should have a clear understanding of how they will benefit by contributing.

Make your letter as conversational as possible. When talking about your organization, use words like “we” or “our” to further develop that emotional connection. The more invested in the organization a potential donor feels, the greater the likelihood it is that they will contribute.

  1. Bad timing

It’s important to consider the best time to send donation requests.  Take into consideration holidays and other events that coincide with the expected arrival of your request. During the fourth quarter, most people have so many financial obligations that donation letters often go unanswered.  Sending a letter following an event in which you’ve made a personal connected at is also a great strategy.

Did you know that people are more inclined to respond to requests in the winter time? Consider timing your next request during the colder months of the year.

  1. Your letter doesn’t stand out

Let’s face it, your potential donors are someone else’s too. This means they are receiving many letters.

Make yours one to remember. Here are some ideas to do just that.

  • Start it off by grabbing your reader’s attention. Let your first sentence illustrate the direct impact their donation will have.  
  • Be creative by using a memorable color or image in your letter.  Consider hiring a designer to help you out.
  • Ensure that your font is large enough to be read. We suggest a 14 point font.

Don’t allow less than stellar results from previous letters discourage you.  Fixing these 5 common mistakes in your next letter and watch your response rate rise!


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