Many of my clients are preparing their editorial calendars and solicitation letters for year end starting in September, and that’s a great time to start. Just mailing a year-end appeal to all donors and prospects on your list in November or December is not enough. My colleagues and I recommend a “build-up” to this in the form of a series of emails and social media posts.
Some of them use “Giving Tuesday” as a launch point, but you should be telling your story year-round via email and social media to keep your donors engaged in the first place, and your organization “top of mind.”
Recently, I attended The Bridge Conference (bridgeconf.org) where I attended many workshops hosted by expert nonprofit copywriters.
What keeps us engaged to read a mailed solicitation letter, email, or social media post? Great subject lines, then heartfelt, engaging, storytelling opening lines, like these:
For example, use “dialogue:”
“I can’t believe I have my own bedroom for the first time in my life!”
“Why?” said the case worker-
“Because my mom lost her apartment when I was a baby, and we lived in the back of her car.”
The letter could go on with more conversational dialogue and then explain that Tommy is 8 years old and never had a bedroom in his whole life. Thanks to you, Tommy and hundreds like him have a safe, permanent home.
You could also try using, “Imagine if..”
“Imagine if you were a dog abused by your owner and left in a field to die, blinded in one eye, malnourished and diseased. How would you feel? Where would you go? Would you bark endlessly hoping for help, or just lay there to die?”
Just when you thought you were dying, a kind person wrapped you in a blanket and took you to a place to get medical help, heal, and find a new home…
I always recommend sharing the content of your letter or email with someone unfamiliar with your organization and asking them the following:
- Were you able to easily read this letter without having to “stop and think?” If you used too much programmatic language or acronyms unfamiliar to the reader, you’ve lost the momentum. Experts say keep it to the 8th/9th grade reading level.
- Would this letter move you to donate? The letter should “feel” as if it was meant for the reader and reader alone, not for “the masses”- it should feel like a personal plea.
I highly recommend reading articles and blog posts by John Haydon, nonprofit marketing guru, on his website JohnHaydon.com. He has much great information and ideas there!
If I can be of service to you helping edit your communications, please reach out to me through the contact form on my website and let’s discuss your needs.
Always at your service,