If you remember nothing else from reading this post, remember this:
It’s the results that matter.
This concept probably doesn’t apply to everything in life, but it definitely applies to writing your fundraising appeals – whether they are delivered by direct mail, email, text message, or chiseled in stone.
See, many organizations who have multiple stakeholders involved also end up with a multi-step approval process where everyone gets to review the copy and make changes. But not everyone does fundraising for a living, and inevitably people bring their own biases and points of view to these communications. Possibly to the detriment of the results.
During November, the npENGAGE Fundraising blog team has been bringing you valuable content about writing for fundraising.
- Michael Quevli dares you to be different when writing appeals
- Marc Pitman gives you 8 steps to writing successful fundraising appeals
- Laura Worcester urges you not to repeat her mistakes
Side note: True Confession posts like Laura’s are my favorite, as evinced by my first-ever post on the now-retired-Connection-Cafe-and-still-living-on-npENGAGE entitled Bloopers, Blunders and Boo-Boos with a memorable story of a big mistake of my own. Well done, Laura!
So back to results. When Marc Pitman agreed to join us as a regular contributor to npENGAGE, I went to his site, FundraisingCoach, to get familiar with his philosophy about fundraising. I read most of his posts from 2012 and this one stuck with me in a big way – 3 more contrarian tips for writing successful fundraising letters. If I may quote:
“The goal of a fundraising letter should be to move a person to the action of making a gift. The goal is not to win a Pulitzer Prize.”
Heck yeah! Not only does a fundraising letter not have to be letter-perfect or aesthetically pleasing (to any one stakeholder who works for the organization), the letter simply has to be effective at raising funds. Go read the whole post, there are more nuggets of wisdom there that you can use.
If you incorporate a discipline of testing different versions of your letters and emails regularly over the course of the year, you’ll be well-equipped to know what works with your donors when year-end fundraising rolls around. Testing discipline is well established in direct mail, but many organizations have a lot of opportunity to do more and better testing on their emails.
And then when a stakeholder says that your email or letter is too long, too short, too ugly, too pretty, too fluffy, too dense, or otherwise imperfect, you can point to the historical results. This ugly, long, dense letter raised twice as much money as the pretty, short, fluffy one! (Or maybe it didn’t.) But either way you’ll know!