The Art Of The Appeal Letter
What’s the best way to raise money? Face-to-face, of course. What’s the best way to raise money when you have 2,000 or 200,000 people on your mailing list and not enough volunteers to make all those visits? The solicitation letter.
Whether it’s called an appeal letter, an annual letter, a membership letter or a desperate cry for help, almost all organizations have to send solicitation letters.
What is an appeal letter?
Like the Supreme Court said about pornography, a good appeal letter is hard to define but you certainly know it when you see it. An appeal letter is not a business letter or an essay. It must communicate your mission and compel the reader to invest in that mission with a check.
And it has to accomplish all that in about 500 words. The average reader will only spend two seconds reading an appeal letter before deciding where to file it: on the desk or in the trash.
Writing a compelling and successful appeal letter is an art — but lots of organizations still seem to be writing in crayon. Here are some suggestions that can move your masterpiece from the refrigerator door to the gallery wall.
Letter Writing Tips
Segment your list and write to the segment
Current members, large donors, prospects, one-time visitors, students, museum professionals — these are all different segments and need different approaches in the appeal letter. Divide up your list and write letters that will be compelling to each type of donor or prospect.
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