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Writing Fundraising Letters That Convert

I don’t know about you, but when I get a direct mail solicitation letter from a nonprofit organization that asks me to make a donation, my habit as a fundraiser (of course) is to pick that letter apart with a fine-toothed comb.

Some letters lose my attention very quickly . Why?

If it starts with “Dear Friend” and not “Dear Ms. Sanver,” I might keep reading, but from the get-go, you’ve partially lost me.

If the first couple of sentences don’t encourage me to keep reading, and I start skimming, you might lose me.

If I start skimming and there are no photos with captions, bolded or underlined phrases that catch my eye, or anything else compelling, you’ve lost me.

If the letter is all about the nonprofit’s work or the Executive Director’s accomplishments, and NOT about how my contribution can make a real difference, you’ve lost me.

If the letter is just plain boring and has no energy or voice, you’ve lost me.

The length of the letter is not as important as the writer’s ability to keep me reading to the end, tug at my heartstrings and move me to action. I have received wonderful, long letters that kept me engaged right up to the P.S. under the signature.  Show me how my contribution helps you as a nonprofit solve a real problem, then you’ve got me doing one of two things- going online to make a gift, or writing a check and sending it back inside the envelope you included with your letter. That’s called conversion. 

Before you finalize that letter, why not share it with one of your top donors and ask for their advice?  “How does this letter make you feel, Mrs. Smith? We would love your advice!”

Mrs. Smith is who you want to LOVE your letter, right? While you’re at it, send it to Mrs. Jones, and Mr. Williams and ask them the same thing!  Let their eyes in reading and their thoughts guide you to writing the perfect letter that converts.

What has worked for you? I’d love to read your comments!

Wishing you greater nonprofit abundance and success!