Have you ever tried to write your appeal letter by committee?
Did you ever regret that you let other people have input into your writing?
Here’s what happens.
You study your grand controls. You make sure that you take an appeal letter webinar, you interview that international and famous copywriter, you read books on how to write more persuasively. You even go so far as to download new fonts to make sure your letter is more trusted because of these fonts. You search for hours in hopes of getting just the right picture and headline for the top. Then, you proudly send it to your board and say, WHAT DO YOU THINK?
And they respond, and say, no, no, wrong voice, too long, we threw out your whole letter, here’s another one we wrote last night!
And you look at it,
And it’s in ARIAL, 9 point font (not 12 point) so nobody is going to read it.
There’s no headline. It’s 1 page long. There’s NO PICTURE. It is all about THEM and not about the donor. It’s not urgent. It reads like a press release. AKA BORING.
Do you scream and yell? Do you tear your hair out?
Yeah, at first.
Then, you call and apologize.
Why do you apologize to them? They just spit on your hard work and decided that they knew better.
I’ll tell you why.
Because you didn’t teach them well enough to know any better.
You need to teach them better. Starting now. This is a teachable moment, even if it is the last possible minute before the appeal letter can go out.
So you say, “Hey, I’m sorry, I didn’t teach you what will make people actually give to you, in an appeal letter. So here you go. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to teach you right now.
I’ve looked at the grand controls of some of the biggest and most successful nonprofits in the country. I’ve looked at the Nature conservancy’s grand control. I’ve looked at the Humane Society’s grand control. They make over $500 million every year in appeal letters. Their grand controls are letters they send out 3 years in a row, the same letter, because it works really well each time. It brings them in a lot of money.
What really works? We know what really works.
- Long copy really works.
- A big compelling headline really works.
- A big picture of who and what your mission is about really works.
- Short, indented paragraphs really work.
- 12 point font really works. No one else is going to read 9 point font. It’s too tiny.
Do you understand?” and they’ll say, “Thank you for teaching me.”
You don’t have to shake them like a rag doll. You can politely show them how things are done. Not “how things are done here” because that hasn’t worked as well as they’d like it to so far, has it? They don’t have the millions that the Humane Society does, or the Nature Conservancy. So Why would they want to keep doing what they’re doing? It doesn’t make sense.
So now you have them. They can either keep trudging along, not willing to learn anything new, OR they can actually learn from this moment, and take a risk, try a new voice in their appeal letters, try something new. The worst that can happen is that no one gives. But you know it’s not going to happen. The best that can happen is that even more people give.
Have you ever had this situation?
How did you deal with it, if so?
If you’d like to learn more about how to make your appeal letter better, and get TONS of money in the mail, I have a webinar coming up on how to write a stunning appeal letter. Check it out at http://wildwomanfundraising.com/upcoming.