A Year-End Fundraising Flop?
Why didn’t people give to my year-end fundraising letter?
~ Sincerely, Frustrated
Dear Frustrated: Thank you for sending me your letter so I could look at it myself. If I may be frank, it’s pretty bad. But before I get to that, let me start with expectations.
What was your goal for this appeal? Many nonprofits live by the fundraising version of the “Field of Dreams” fallacy: If you mail it, they will give.
Not so. Those in the direct-mail industry report that even the best appeals only get around a 1 percent response. So if you send 100 letters, you’ll be “doing well” to get one response.
Beyond that, had you figured out how much you wanted to raise from it based on similar appeals your nonprofit has sent? You don’t have to shoot in the dark. Does a mailing at this time of the year typically bring in a lot of money?
Now to the letter
I applaud you for your courage in asking for help. There’s a lot of excellent free advice on writing effective fundraising letters. Here are the glaring items that stand out from your letter.
1. You didn’t use my name. If you can get a letter to me with my name on the envelope, there’s no excuse for not addressing me on the letter. “Dear Friend” is a sign of laziness.
2. You didn’t have a P.S. Even if I were interested enough in your cause to get over the “Dear Friend,” you left me hanging. Where is the postscript? This is Fundraising Letter 101. You’re not writing a business letter for your high school teacher. You’re writing a fundraising letter to motivate giving. You need a P.S. in the letter to let me know what you want, why and by when.