Did you read my first terrible appeal letter? If not, here it is!

This second brutally honest appeal letter critique is brought to you by the VNSNY.

This appeal letter was sent to my great aunt from the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. It reads, in its entirety,

“Dear Friend of VNSNY,

When you support the Visiting Service of New York (VNSNY), you give an immeasurable gift to countless New Yorkers.

Your donations help ensure that our services are accessible to those who need them, regardless of their ability to pay. I am so grateful for your continued support of our work.

Whe you give, you touch many lives. Today I would like to share some stories of those lives, so that you can see the real difference you are making.

When Frank came home after surgery for lung cancer, his wife, Juliana, was a bundle of nerves. “I just wanted to help him the best I could,” she said. Frank’s illness was the biggest challenge the couple had ever faced, and they both worried that it might be too much to handle.

Then nurse Carol S. arrived. “The day carol came into our home, I felt relieved,” Juliana said. “She was so calming and reassuring to both of us.”

With her warmth and expert knowledge, she helped the couple through the first trying weeks of Frank’s recovery. “We could not have done it without her,” said Juliana.

Lorraine knew about VNSNY long before she needed our services herself. Both of her parents had relied on our care as they grew older, so she knew we would be here for her if the need arose.

After she suffered a pelvic fracture, she began her recuperation at home – and our team helped her get back on her feet.

Nurse Juanita H. coordinated Lorraine’s care, monitoring her during in-home visits and checking in by phone. The most important piece of Lorraine’s recovery was physical therapy to regain strength and flexibility -and Lorraine said that both of her therapists were outstanding.

“Their exercise regimen and their support and encouragement are fully responsible for my quick recovery,” she said.

When the hospital discharged Annamaria’s mother, Grace, she was still in terrible pain and could hardly move. She had suffered fractures in a rib and vertebra, yet doctors thought she was ready to go home. Annamaria did not know what to do.

Fortunately nurse Joyce N. did. As soon as she took one look at Grace, she knew there was a serious problem and that Grace needed to be readmitted to the hospital immediately. Joyce called 911 and had Grace brought to the ER. It turned out that Grace had three fractured vertebrae in her neck that had been overlooked during her previous hospital stay.

“I believe Joyce saved my mother’s life,” Annamaria said emphatically. “We are eternally grateful to her. She went above and beyond the call of duty to get my mother the care she deserved.”

Going above and beyond is what VNSNY does every day -and your partnership helps make this possible.

You know that VNSNY is here for you and your family- and with your help, we bring that same dedication to your less fortnuate neighbors. With you at our side, we care for our regions’s most vulnerable.

Will you take a moment now to renew your support of this compassionate work by sending a tax-deductible gift to VNSNY?

Your support will help VNSNY carry on this legacy of caring for those in need. Lorraine, Frank, Grace, and countless others thank you for your generosity.


President and CEO

P.S. The gift you send will make high quality home healthcare available to more of your neediest neighbors. Please renew your support for VNSNY today. Thank you!


What’s wrong with this appeal letter?

appeal letter sample

NO PICTURES of anyone they have helped.

Formatting doesn’t indent the paragraphs.

It didn’t share the urgency of the gift, it didn’t share what would happen if they don’t get the gift.

They don’t personalize the letter at all, no acknowledgement of what she’s given previously.

What’s right with this appeal letter?

It appeals to the donor’s self interest- we’ll be there for you if you need us!

They do say the word you 20 times. That’s pretty good.

They tell three stories- there’s a pro and a con to this- The con is that three stories are not as good as one powerful story, but at least they have stories.

It’s two pages long but printed on one page. The length implies strength heuristic states that a more powerful appeal letter would be on two pages.

They have a PS that reinforces the call to action.

I give this appeal letter a C. They have stories. That’s something. The typeface is actually big enough to read. They say the word You a lot.

Now, join us tomorow for the last brutal appeal letter critique, HRC’s 2015 appeal letter.

Even big nonprofits make appeal letter mistakes. And I made mistakes too, when I was writing my first appeal letter!

You can do better than this letter. I know you can.


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