Today, we are featuring a guest post from Gloria Kopp, a fundraising manager at Australian Help.
Writing a fundraising appeal letter is an extremely niche form of writing that can be difficult to master. Instead of trying to promote a service or a product like most businesses, you’ll be trying to write a letter that describes facts about a specific cause with the aim of receiving a goodwill donation.
The complexity can vary depending on your cause and the reputation of your business but, at its core, the basics of writing this kind of letter remain the same. So you can make sure your next fundraising appeal letter has the biggest impact, here are five of the most common mistakes when writing appeal and how to avoid them.
Not Asking for What You Need
It’s easy to get caught in the trap of skipping around the issue, so you don’t seem pushy or rude. However, the entire purpose of the letter is to ask for money, so this is what you should be doing.
You can ask softly, you can ask directly, or even indirectly, but you need to make sure that you’re asking for money or action several times. For example, you can use phrases like ‘The cause needs you’ or ‘take these steps to donate today.’
Using Weak Calls to Action
“Your calls to action part of your letters are the final aspect that will make your readers donate and will guide them from your fundraising appeal letter to your website or donation link. However, using weak calls to action mean that your readers will simply skim over and disregard the letter“ – explains Mary Pham, a Fundraising Manager at Elite assignment help.
When it comes to CTAs, there’s no reason to beat around the bush. Be direct and firm. For example, you can say things like ‘The cause needs your help. Click here to donate today.”
Not Talking Directly to the Reader
For a person to want to make a donation, you need to make sure that you’re making them feel like they are part of what’s going on. This means you need to use the word ‘you’ and ‘yours’ a lot.
In short, you’ll want to use these words whenever you can as it forms an emotional attachment to the reader and is renowned for being an emotional trigger.
Not Asking for Donations Enough
Although you might be writing decent fundraising appeal letters that get results, how often are you sending out these letters? You don’t want your reader to donate once and never think about you again; you want to be on their minds consistently.
As an average, you want to make sure that you’re asking for donations, or action to be taken, around 5 or 6 times a year as you’ll help your readers feel included in your annual fundraising journeys.
Using Incorrect Formatting
Elizabeth Evans, an Operation Manager at Australian Help comments: “When writing a fundraising appeal letter, it’s important to remember that your letter could be read anybody regardless of their age, their gender or any form of demographic that you care to name. This means you need to make sure that your letter can be easily read by all.”
Consider the font type and size that you’re using while making sure your paragraphs are broken up into digestible sections. Font size 14 and a clear Calibre font should suffice.
Using Resources When Writing Your Letter
Not everyone is born to be an extremely talented writer, nor the time to create the perfect appeal letter, especially when you have so many other aspects of your business to focus on. To help you save time while guaranteeing a high-quality letter, here are some online tools you can use;
Easy Word Count – a tool for tracking the word count of your letter, so it’s an appropriate length.
Grammarix – a free online resource for making sure all aspects of your writing are accurate.
Cite It In – a free online tool you can use to source and cite information and data in your letters.
My Writing Way – an online resource full of letter-writing guides you can download and follow.
State of Writing – a free online blog full of posts and articles to help you improve your grammar skills.
Paper Fellows – a business writing tool to help you improve your editing and proofreading skills.
As you can see, there are several common mistakes that pop up in the majority of fundraising appeal letters that can be so easily avoided. Take your time to ensure you don’t fall into these traps and you’ll see a huge boost in your donation and response rates.
Gloria Kopp is a fundraising manager at Australian Help. She regularly contributes articles to Engadget, Engaging Volunteers and Academized