They are simple words, but it’s so easy to write a donation request letter and not use them. Our schools and employers teach us to write impersonally, formally, pompously. So, go back through your letter draft and check for these five words: It’s an easy way to improve your donation request letter, thank you note, or donor update.
1. The donor’s first name. No word in the English language is more important than our own name. No word has the power to capture our attention like our own name. Our name is a power word. The most important people in your life use your name: your mother, your spouse, your children, your friends, your boss.
Use the prospect’s name three times in an appeal letter. Here are the best places to use it.
- in the address heading
- in the salutation
- in a thank you sentence
- in the ask sentence
- in the P.S.
2. You. Fundraising letters are about what the donor wants, not about what you want. Donors want to do something about problems they care about. They want their contribution to be recognized. Not, “Our generous donors helped,” but “You helped.” “You can make a difference.” “Your assistance made it possible.”
3. I. Not, “We hope…,” but “I ask you to ….” “I’d like to let you know how your money has been put to work.” “I’d like to like to tell you how much your donation has accomplished.”
4. Thank you. I know, I know—thank you is two words, but for our purposes here, I’m counting them as one. Donors want to know that they accomplished something and that you appreciate them!
5. Give. “Please give $100 today.” Or, “I hope you will continue your support by sending a gift today of $100.” Use “donate,” “make a donation,” “make a gift,” etc. You get the point! (Never use the word “support” as a substitute for the more specific “give” or “donate.”)
Using these five words will go a long way to making your letter personal and less like organization speak. A personal letter touches the emotions. An organization letter speaks to the intellect. It’s the intellect’s job to say no. It’s the emotions’ job to say yes.
Here’s a sentence that uses all five words:
Gary, your generous support of our Capital Campaign made the new Y possible. Thank you! I hope you will continue your support with a gift to our annual Reach Out Campaign.
Put these words to work for you. Remember, if one or two more people out of 100 respond, that’s a lot of help over the long run. So, details count!
P.S. Did I mention that I’m a big fan of the Y?