9 ‘refresher’ tips for your letters

September 23, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

Whether it’s email or direct mail, fundraisers always aim to write effective copy that will inspire people to give. Well, sometimes that’s easier said than done — especially after authoring hundreds of solicitations over the years.

During a recent fundraising conference, a panel of nonprofit consultants provided a refresher on what to include in your next fundraising appeal. Among the panelists were Ami Tripi, president of Tripi Consulting; Christine Shiloski, senior account executive for Mal Warwick Associates/Donordigital; Lori Burns, senior vice president at Russ Reid Company, and Luke Vander Linden, formerly vice president and senior marketing director at of Carl Bloom Associates.

Their refresher tips included:

  • Be dramatic
  • Include compelling stories to illustrate need and success
  • Employ passionate donor testimonials
  • When using photos, show dramatic before and after images

Remember to make it specific and personal:

  • Write to a person
  • Replace “we” with “I”
  • Don’t make the organization the subject of the sentence
  • Talk about real people doing real things
  • Make ask for a specific gift repeatedly. A good rule of thumb is four times in the letter: within first three paragraphs; end of first page; end of letter; in a postscript.