Contact Mazarine: (503) 673-FUND (3863)

How does an appeal letter edit work?

I recently did a series of webinars for National Meals on Wheels, and the latest one was on appeal letters. Here’s a sample letter that someone sent me, asking me for feedback. I decided to re-write the whole letter.

Draft 1 of their letter, before I did anything:

Dear Friend of <our nonprofit>,

Aging is inevitable. We all think about it from time to time – when to retire, maybe moving to a warmer climate or downsizing to a condo, spending more time with grandchildren, enjoying a favorite hobby or pursing new interests. What we don’t we don’t always think about are the difficulties that can come with aging, the “other” side of aging. What happens when you are no longer able to drive, when jobs around the house become more difficult, when the ordinary tasks of daily living are just a little bit harder? Most seniors in these situations still want to remain independent and living in their own homes. With some help, they can.

For some seniors, receiving Meals-on-Wheels, transportation to their neighborhood senior center or a weekly grocery trip may be all the help they need to maintain their independence. Others find themselves in situations where they need more help and additional services. Often times that assistance comes from the social workers here at <our nonprofit>.

Many of our clients have financial issues that require intervention and on-going monitoring and management. Louise is one of those seniors. She lives alone in her own home. Her children live out of town. Her income is enough to cover her monthly expenses. But as she has aged, there were times when she would forget to pay her bills. She also began to hire people to do things around her house and was being over charged for the work they did. There were days she went to the bank several times to withdraw money. It wasn’t long before she began having financial problems. Her checking account was overdrawn, and her property taxes were delinquent. The day she received a disconnect notice from the utility company, she panicked and asked her bank manager for help. He referred her to <our nonprofit>. Through our Representative Payee program, we have been able to help Louise. With a financial power of attorney, we are managing her finances. Her bills are being paid on time, she receives a small amount of spending money each month and money is even being added to her savings account. Her <our nonprofit> case manager is in regular contact with her adult children. Louise is doing well. With our help, she can remain independent and in her own home.

Clients like Louise are sometimes in extremely dire circumstances when they find their way to <our nonprofit>. They may have received an eviction notice or have had their utilities shut off for non-payment. The reasons vary: bills and expenses may exceed their income; overspending on unnecessary items; forgetting to pay bills; or writing the checks and then not mailing them. Late fees and overdraft charges exacerbate the problem. Unfortunately, for some of our clients, their financial problems are the result of financial exploitation by a relative, friend or someone they befriended who is now taking advantage of them. We have clients who have been exploited out of thousands of dollars. We take the steps necessary to end the exploitation. Many of these seniors have no family support, or have no contact with their family. They are in a state of crisis. This is when <our nonprofit> steps in to help.

The first thing we do is stabilize the situation. We work with landlords, utility companies and other creditors to arrange payment plans. We obtain legal power of attorney and begin the process of managing their finances. We will prepare a budget, eliminate or reduce expenses, manage their income, pay their bills on time and see that their needs are being met. Our staff will even shop for clients who cannot shop for themselves. Beyond that, we will ascertain what other services they need to help them stay in their homes. It might be services <our nonprofit> can provide, such as Meals-on-Wheels or transportation. Or, they may need help with homemaking or personal care. Some have mental health, substance abuse or legal issues. <our nonprofit> refers these clients to the agencies and organizations that can provide the appropriate help. Our social workers will also serve as a liaison for the client’s family. Our goal is to keep our clients financially stable and independent for as long as possible.

What most seniors fear most is not being able to remain in their homes and being moved into a nursing home. Studies have shown that seniors do better, physically and emotionally, when they can stay at home. Often times, it may be help in just one area such as our Representative Payee financial management that makes staying at home possible. These services, much less expensive than institutional care, give the senior peace of mind of knowing they will not have to leave their home. They know they are not alone; help fromis just a phone call away.

I am asking you to join with us in providing these vital services. The reimbursement <our nonprofit> receives from our funding agencies does not cover the entire cost of our services. Foundation grants and donations from those who support our mission make it possible for us to help the 2000 senior clients we serve each year. They depend on us. Many of these seniors live alone, with no family to help them. If it were not for <our nonprofit>, most of them would have no where to turn for help. Your contribution will make a difference in the life of a senior.

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Draft 2 of their letter, after the preliminary round of edits:

<Date>

First name, last name
Address
City, State Zip

Do you ever think about what
you’ll do when you get older?

Dear <firstname>,

Do you ever dream about retiring, maybe moving to a warmer climate or downsizing to a condo, spending more time with grandchildren, enjoying a favorite hobby or pursing new interests?

But what about the “other” side of aging? What happens when you are no longer able to drive, when jobs around the house become more difficult, when the ordinary tasks of daily living are just a little bit harder?

Most older people still want to remain independent and living in their own homes. With your help, they can.

With your generous donation of $50 today, the 2,000 seniors we serve can continue receiving Meals-on-Wheels, transportation to their neighborhood senior center or a weekly grocery trip to maintain their independence.

But we don’t just stop there.  We help seniors with so much more. Let me tell you about Louise. Louise lives alone in her own home. Her children live out of town. Her income is enough to cover her monthly expenses.

  • But sometimes she forgets to pay her bills.
  • She also hired people to do things around her house and they over-charged her.
  • Sometimes she went to the bank several times a day to withdraw money.

It wasn’t long before she began having financial problems. Her checking account was overdrawn, and her property taxes were delinquent. The day she received a disconnect notice from the utility company, she panicked and asked her bank manager for help. He referred her to us.

Thanks to your generous support in the last year, we have been able to help Louise. Her bills are being paid on time, she receives a small amount of spending money each month and money is even being added to her savings account. Louise is doing well. With your help, she can remain independent and in her own home.

<Firstname>, won’t you help us ensure that our 2,000 other seniors can continue to live independently and age with dignity? Please give today.

Thanks to your support, we can do even more for seniors. But we need your help. Our grants cannot cover the expenses that we incur, and there are THOUSANDS of people like Louise who desperately need our services.  Could you please give <double the amt they gave last year $50> today to help us continue to help seniors?

What most seniors fear most is not being able to remain in their homes and being moved into a nursing home. Studies have shown (WHAT STUDIES? Citation needed) that seniors do better, physically and emotionally, when they can stay at home.

Please donate $50 today and help us continue providing these vital services. The reimbursement <our nonprofit> receives from our funding agencies does not cover the our costs, and our 2,000 seniors need us, desperately, to help keep them aging with dignity. And someday, our services may be important to you.

What if <our nonprofit> didn’t help? Our 2,000 senior clients would not get food, health checks or simple financial checkups to ensure they are not getting taken advantage of. Many of these seniors live alone, with no family to help them.

If it were not for your generous donation to <our nonprofit> today, most of them would have nowhere to turn for help. Please, use the enclosed envelope and give <double the donation they gave last year.>

Sincerely,

(Write your PS here, and restate the point of the letter. Yellow highlighter.)

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Do you see how I rewrote this letter? 

Short paragraphs

Longer copy

Tell the story like we’re sitting in a coffeeshop together.

Put in headers & personalization to break up the text.

Make sure you’ve got that PS!

Do you need help with your appeal letters?

Get on my November webinar!

 

2 responses on “How does an appeal letter edit work?

  1. Mazarine says:

    Thank you Kenita! I appreciate that! 🙂
    It’s all about the conflict. How can you tell a story and make the donor the hero, the one who saves the day?

    🙂

    Mazarine

  2. Awesome as always! You did a great job on the re-write. I loved it!