PHILANTHROPIST AND AUTHOR
A good letter can make a big difference between success and failure in fundraising.
Let us consider a fictional not-for-profit, called Dance Artists of America, asking for money. Following are examples of good and bad letters. All are real, from different groups; Dance Artists has been inserted in all cases.
Here’s an example of a bad fundraising letter, almost exactly the same as one I received from a real organization. Imagine receiving many letters in one day and having to wade through this!
What’s wrong? It’s too long! All of the paragraphs are too long. It’s densely laid out on the page. The type is too small. And where do I find out exactly what is wanted?
More thoughts on Letter #1
If I receive a letter with the salutation, “Dear Mr. Cullman,” and I know the person writing it, then I’ll know he or she did not actually sign the letter. If you know the person you are writing to, make sure the salutation is personal. If necessary, cross out “Mr. Cullman” and write “Lewis” by hand.
Maybe it’s just a personal thing with me, but I don’t like to receive dense letters on dense stationery – by that I mean the name of an organization with a list of members, staff, honorary chairpersons, advisors, board of directors and founders running down the left side. Too many names. Too much data.
This is a version of another letter I actually received. This shows how sloppy word-processing can be. If you mention my name in the body of the letter, be sure to change it along with the name and address at the top!
This is an excellent letter – brief, well-written, and to the point.
Another succinct letter that personalizes asking for money. Note that it references an attachment (not included here) that includes testaments from the kids mentioned.