Listen, my friends: I’ve been trying to tell you how to write the ideal appeal letter in many different ways.
Forget what I said. Someone I just met said it better.
Why Donors Give
I was speaking to a conference of people with disabilities in the northeast U.S. I was explaining that bragging about your organization and its accomplishments may make donors say, “That’s nice, but why should I care?”
I told them donors give not because you do good work but because giving makes them feel good about themselves. “Because of you,” the nonprofit should say to the donor, “a wonderful thing is happening.”
Why a Good Appeal Letter is like a Love Letter
No heartsick suitor ever won his lady’s love by boasting. “I’m so great. I’ve done so well in so many ways. I deserve your love, so love me.” Sorry, Romeo, that’s not going to touch the heart.
What you have to say in your letter is what makes the other person–in this case, the donor–so love-able. Their values. The cause they support. The difference they make with each donation.
Persuade your donor that it’s their action that changes the world for the endangered people, species, or ecosystem they care about. Your organization is the vehicle by which they express what’s best about themselves–but only the vehicle.
Don’t focus on getting them to love you. Show the donor you love them.