Geared Up for Growth
Marc Pitman: … One of the things that we really get sidetracked by is the flashy, shiny object; it’s usually a social-media thing that fared poorly. You know, Flickr or something else that’s missing letters. But for really serious fundraisers, direct mail is still a must. I gave a social-media pre-conference for another conference yesterday and we were going through all the different types of social media, but [attendees] kept saying, “How do we get gifts online?” I said, “Well, you send them a letter.” What we want to be able to do is show flashy, new things to our board and our boss, but really successful fundraising is kind of boring. It’s executing a plan. It’s calling the donors and writing them a letter, and drafting it, and using the best practices.
When it comes to fundraising letters, there are a couple of mistakes people make. The first thing you want to do is get that high school English teacher editor out of your head. You’re not trying to get an A on this paper. You’re not writing a composition. You’re not trying to submit it for a Pulitzer Prize. Your only goal in fundraising letters, through mail, is to raise funds. It’s not to educate people on the intricacies of your cause. It’s not to do all these others things that are good communication tools. If you’re writing a fundraising letter, it’s a lot less confusing to the donor if you just keep it to raising funds.
Use a lot of white space, big fonts … if you just Google “effective fundraising letters” or “fundraising letters,” you’ll see a lot of good tips on the font styles and how to write it so donors can skim it, because all of us are reading these things over trash cans, whether we’re in the industry or not. And we need to get past the trash can and into the donor’s wallet.