9 ‘refresher’ tips for your letters

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.