Top ten tips for writing an inspiring festive appeal letter
The festive season is a great time to encourage people to think about those in need. However, it’s also a time when many of us are extremely busy. A creative and bold appeal letter is going to grab a donor’s attention during the hustle and bustle of the festive season. And you are going to need something different if you want to make an impact as you will be competing with every other charity who is running an appeal at this time of year.
Most of you will already have your appeal in full swing, or about to launch it, but for those who haven’t quite got there as of yet. Here our top ten tips to help you create distinction with your appeal.
- It’s all about the donor, not the cause or charity. Use the word YOU a lot, meaning ‘you, the donor’. Use it many more times than you use the words I, WE or the charity’s name. Make it clear that it is the donor who is going to achieve the change you are talking about, not the charity.
- Tell a story – your tone should be warm, almost like talking to a friend. Tell a story of a single protagonist and how your company helped and, through that, showcase your mission and all the ways in which donations help. Really paint the picture – adding details like age and location and even the person’s interests can make your appeal more personal.
- Use lots of images – if your appeal is festive related then use images related to this.
- Create a sense of urgency and highlight a call-to-action. While you don’t want to be pushy, it’s a good time to remind your supporters that this is their last chance to make a tax-deductible donation and make an impact before the end of the year. Make sure your call-to-action is clear. Reiterate it throughout your appeal letter in clear language and restate your request in your closing.
- By no more than two thirds down the first page of the letter, you must have hinted at whatever it is you want the donor to do. And before the end of the first page you must have asked for money.
- Don’t use any phrase along the lines of ‘Please give us a donation and we will…’. Because ‘people give to people’, not to charities. Every fundraiser knows that and nearly everyone ignores it. So, don’t say: ‘You can help a child’s family by supporting us today’. Say: ‘You can help a child’s family today’.
- Make sure your letter is easy to read and understandable. For direct mailings trial using a minimum of two pages for content length. Some charities go up to six pages and this works for them, you’ll have to find out what works for you. Ensure your tone is friendly, personable and conversational.
- If you can’t write, don’t try to – get a professional content writer, like Redhead Digital Marketing in to write your appeal letter, your fundraising depends on this.
- Get the reader involved – prompt them to do something other than giving money. A great example of this is using the ‘bounce back’ technique. The charity Traidcraft did this really well with one of their festive appeals – they encouraged donors to cut out a star and add a festive wish which would be added on Traidcraft’s company Christmas tree, which was a huge success. You can view their creative idea here.
- The envelope has only one task – to get the donor to open it. Don’t forget to use the enveloped to encourage a donor to tear it open. Use images, state that there is a gift inside, use a call to action that will make the donor want to open the envelope.
This is the time of the year when Australians are the most giving and your festive appeal letter can be one of your most powerful fundraising tools. With a little bit of work, creativity, and courage – you can meet and exceed your fundraising goals.
Don’t forget about the follow up process. You’ll want to provide a tax receipt to your donor, acknowledging their donation and thanking them for it. Make sure your gratitude is enthusiastic and genuine. Make sure your store all your donor’s details in your CRM for future campaigns.
Writing a great appeal letter needs to be planned. You need to carefully think through the message and the content you will be using to capture your supporter’s attention. You may also want to send different messages to different donors – depending on how engaged they are with you and how often they donate. And before going live with your appeal make sure that you’ve captured the key message across all communication channels – keep it consistent.
If you haven’t got the time or resources to plan an effective appeal, why not get in touch with Redhead Digital Marketing.