Nonprofit Insurance Program

15 Tips to Help You Raise More Money by Mail

By Alexa Connelly
August 15, 2011
  • Use the same appeal message in your mail solicitations, on your Web site “call to action”, and in your e-mail communications—to reinforce your message over and over.
  • Focus more on your donor and what he or she wants to accomplish than on your organization.
  • The appeal letter can have only one objective: a clear ask for support. It is not a newsletter, an end-of-year report, or item mixed in with other communications.
  • Your top priority is always to renew your past donors.
  • Don’t solicit any donors until you have shown them what results you have accomplished with their first gift.
  • Be sure to communicate with your donors frequently in between appeals so they are up to date and feel connected to your organization.

Draw Your Donors In

  • Use the word “you” immediately in the first sentence of your appeal.
  • Repeat the word “you” frequently; it’s the most important word in your letter. Always make it about the donor.
  • Always immediately thank donors for their past support in the first or second lines. I like to open letters with “thank you” to remind donors of their partnership for the cause.
  • Use the word “I” in the letter to make it more personal and friendly. It does wonders changing your tone from “institutional” to “personal.”
  • Tell a story. Narrative is far more powerful than a set of statistics and organizational accomplishments.
  • Use photos in your letter or accompanying materials. The donor will read captions under photos before your letter copy.
  • Always use photos of people, not buildings. It’s what happens inside the buildings that counts.
  • Photos of cute kids and attractive people draw better than photos of sick kids or unpleasant scenes. (Cute animals draw better than sick animals.)
  • Always, always, always send out personalized letters (“Dear Mr. Smith,” rather than “Dear Friend”).

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