Why is donor correspondence so important? As fundraisers, we send out hundreds – maybe even thousands – of mail to our donors and constituents every year. Direct mail is an essential tool in acquiring funds. Whether you are sending mail pieces to longtime donors, soliciting new donors whom you acquired by trading lists, or are reaching out to guests from a recent event, each letter you send should be treated as if it is being sent directly to President Obama.
IF the donor decides to open your mail piece, whether you sent it via snail mail or email, you have mere seconds to capture his attention and convey your message. In the same way job recruiters glance over your resume in less than 30 seconds (at most!), donors and constituents who receive your mail do the same. As my good friend Marc Pitman explains, donors glance at two things: the greeting line to see if it says their name, and the P.S. section.
When you are writing letters that are going to your donors – whether an appeal, thank you note, or anything in between – make sure you have sufficiently inspected the letter to check for any grammatical or formatting errors. While I was working at ACCION, one of my projects involved sorting through applications and doing preliminary interviews for our AmeriCorps*VISTA program. I have a knack for noticing formatting errors, so any resume I received that had poor spacing, inconsistent format, or did not follow basic resume rules was put at the bottom of the pile. If the applicant did not care enough to proof-read and provide me with a quality resume, why should I spend my time looking at it?
Consider your solicitation letters to be like job applications: Why should this person donate to your organization? What makes your organization’s mission unique and set you apart? Why are you a better investment of this person’s money than a similar organization? By sending quality mail pieces, you are showing your donors you care and respect them enough to provide them with a well-written letter. You have spent the time to proofread, check formatting, and are representing your organization well.
What are some other essential rules you follow when mailing your donors?