The Right Way to Ask
Everyone is sending appeal letters to donors in this holiday season. I'm seeing some nice solicitation letters land on my desk and in my email.
But there's one thing that many people get wrong.
They don't know how to come right out and actually ask their donors for gifts. They sort of hint about the gift. Or ask for generic "support."
What I hate the most is an appeal letter that beats around the bush and never quite gets an ask on the table.
So here's a great way to ask your donor for a gift. This is what to say in your appeal letter:
"I'm writing you today to …
Say this right out at the beginning of a paragraph. It puts the reader of your letter on notice that there is actually a point to your communication.
… ask you to consider a generous gift …
When you use the word "consider," it is a bit more soft and gentle. When we do a major-gift ask, we always use the word "consider." I like it in appeal letters too.
… of $xxxx …
You really need to put a dollar amount in your letter. All the direct-mail experts say that you'll raise more if you ask for a specific amount. Use a larger number, not smaller.
… to help these kids …
(or the environment, the theater, the students, the elderly, the refugees — choose the word that fits your cause.) Be specific about who will be helped!
… have hope for the future (or what fits for your specific cause)."
This is your impact statement. Always include the impact of the gift when you ask for money. This makes your ask feel not about the money but instead about the wonderful work your organization does in the world.