As the days in December continue to get shorter, so does the time to have an impact on your annual fundraising goals.
Last week, we looked at the importance of online giving. This week, it’s the letter — the snail mail kind. It often seems that organizations spend more effort in the digital space for communicating with donors than the tried-and-true annual appeal letter.
Tom Ahern is undoubtedly the best at direct mail fundraising appeals. He created a free e-book called “20 Questions: The Donor Communications Test” as a gift to fundraisers everywhere.
If you struggle with appeal letters, or if your process is rock solid but you seek to improve, we encourage taking his test.
Of the 20 questions, two that we think are particularly important to year-end giving are #7 “What is the preferred ‘grade level’ for a direct mail appeal?” and #18 “If we educate our donors about the work, they’ll give us more.”
The preferred grade level for appeals? Sixth grade.
Running an assessment is as easy as using the readability tool under Spelling and Grammar in Microsoft Word. Rate your appeal letter and compare its score. Creating a compelling letter at the sixth-grade level doesn’t mean the content isn’t smart — it means that it’s clear and easily understood.
The assumption that letters must be written at a high academic level is related to the belief that appeal letters must teach the reader about each and every program, who it serves, when it’s offered, and why it’s unique.
At the end of the day, donors want to know they are having an impact. They want to know how their gift makes a difference and who it impacts, more than how and when the program is offered.
Focus on a story to illustrate impact. Take the donor on a journey with their support as the focus. It’s not too late to let them know how much they matter to your mission.
And how does this article rank? Seventh grade.
Article by: Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, Founder & CEO