I love it when someone you respect echoes your own thoughts!
I just got Marc Pitman’s regular ‘Fundraising Ezine’ in my mailbox this morning and was delighted to find an article on my favorite topic (fundraising letter copywriting) entitled: 3 Tips for effective fundraising letters.
It covers what I believe to be the living, breathing heart – the very essence – of how to write a better fundraising letter, and that is simply . . . talking to your donor like you know her.
Or as Marc says in his article:
“Just picture your ideal donor and write a letter to her. Be conversational. Use emotion. Talk about the donor, not about the nonprofit.”
Personally, I do this every time I write a fundraising letter. See: The importance of writing to your donor like she’s standing right in front of you.
I conjure up an imaginary picture of my client’s typical donor: age, how she dressses, her likes, dislikes and hobbies . . . I call her Joan (hence the name of this website - see Who's Joan?) even though she changes from day to day.
Joan sits with me as I write. She watches over my shoulder as my letter develops. I read passages to her out loud.
She yawns and tuts through the boring bits — usually when I start writing about the non-profit instead of real human stories. About organizational programs instead of how Joan’s donations are helping people, saving more lives, and making the world a better place.
But when I spin a good story, weave in the right use of emotion, really speak to her heart — she perks up . . . she listens harder, becomes engrossed . . . sometimes she even cries.
That’s when I know I’ve hit a rich seam — because letters that connect with your donor like that, break records. You get better response rates, higher average gifts, and more return on investment than ever before. Plus happier supporters too!