Look What Came in the Mail Today!


Over the weekend, I opened my mailbox, and lo and behold…I am already the proud recipient of two year-end appeals from two wonderful local charities.  As a fundraiser, I look forward to this time of year (I know many of you do as well!).  I read these not only because I care about the work these organizations are doing, but, I also want to see what others are doing!  How do they tell their stories?  What intrigued me?  What worked?  What didn’t?

Was it the cool new infographic that one of the charities used…or the beautiful photographs of a children’s organization that drew me in?  There are MANY talented folks out there telling their organization’s stories in very creative ways.

So, the question is…how will you stand out among some of the best?  How will your letter get opened…maybe by a first time donor.  Did you use a special teaser on the outside of your envelope?  Was it a quote, a statistic or maybe a photograph?

Here are a few basic tips that I try to follow when finalizing year-end messages…

  • People are busy.  Don’t get too lengthy with your copy.  One page is enough.
  • Don’t parse out facts and figures about your organization and call it a day.  Share what your donor wants to hear…How am I impacting lives?  How does my gift make a real difference?
  • Share real stories about who your organization touches.  Paint the picture of who benefits from your donor’s support.  Our donors are also investors – show them how their investments have paid off.
  • Make sure you place your call to action early in the letter.
  • Add a powerful, short P.S.

Finally, think beyond the year-end letter.  Send a quick email to those you are mailing to a week before the letter is received and tell your donors that something important is coming in the mail.  At the close of the year, send another email reminder to thank those that have given, but also, allow for an opportunity for donors that haven’t given to make their year-end gift on-line.

As the leaves continue to fall, I look forward to trick or treaters, football, pumpkins, and a good bowl of soup on a crisp fall day.  And…continuing to find more wonderful letters in my mailbox to learn more about the good work of not for profits that make a real difference in our world.


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