16 August 2016
Sending a fundraising letter is a tried and tested way of asking individuals, businesses and organizations for donations, but does that mean that it’s the most effective way of asking?
After writing a few blog posts over the last couple weeks on the digital trends of fundraising, it got me thinking that perhaps sending an old school fundraising letter, on actual paper, could be an out-dated practice.
So this thought made me consider, what do I associate with the letters I receive in the post? My first reaction was bills! We often receive bills, contract renewals or letters from your bank via post and this is often met with feelings of distress and frustration. It often means that you’re going to be forced to do something you don’t necessarily want to do, whether that is paying a bill, calling up the company to renew a subscription or book an appointment with the bank. This feeling of an unwanted burden is not the message you want to convey to your potential donors. You don’t want them to feel like donating and supporting your charity is a chore and something they’d rather file away for another day.
There are some circumstances where a traditional letter is appropriate and perhaps essential, depending on the person or business receiving it. A letter is formal, demands attention and a great way to pin point all your information and communicate your story effectively. On the other hand, sending is letter timely and doesn’t allow for a personal touch or any level of interaction. This is why it’s always worth considering your options and looking for alternative ways to ask for donations to ensure your story is heard and people feel that they want to help you.
They key factor in how you communicate your message is who will be receiving it. Always consider your audience and their personality and style before sending anything to them. This is even more appropriate for businesses, research their website and understand their brand persona so you know how best to interact with them.
The most popular alternative to fundraising writing a letter is to send an email. Emails are cost effective, quick and an obvious choice for communication. But again, emails have their pros and cons. On the one hand, emails are quick to send, receive and reply. They allow you to add links to your website and social media channels, you can add interactive aspects to your emails like photos and graphics to make your emails come alive. They are generally informal and allow you to show personality and ultimately spark up a conversation. However, thousands of emails are sent everyday and it’s too easy to end up in someone’s emails trash. So it’s time to get creative.
Make your potential supporter feel special and dare to stand out of the crowd with unconventional means of communicating your message. Don’t underestimate large businesses and corporations appreciation of something out of the ordinary. Some things to consider could be:
-Sending a beautifully designed postcard or hand written greetings cards.
-Sending an invitation to an event
-Getting in contact via social media
-Creating a video
-Producing an illustration or cartoon strip
-Phoning for a meeting and enjoying a coffee
Ultimately your goal is to build up a relationship with your potential donors to build up a level of trust and commitment. Avoid hard selling and begin by getting to know each other. Invite them to a free event or link them to your email newsletter sign up. Once you have built up a relationship, you will then know how to best approach them to ask for donations. Remember, every supporter will be different. It’s also good to remember what inspires donors to donate and incorporate those factors into your message.
Once you’ve got the hard part out the way it’s always a good idea to follow up your request. Try contacting them in a different manner than you did the first time. If you met up with them for a meeting, then follow it up with an email. If you sent them a postcard, perhaps connect with them on LinkedIn and drop them an email. Take care of the relationship you have built and never forget to thank them. Let them know you appreciate their time and support, perhaps send them a thank you note, but maybe not a thank you letter!