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

Did you read the second brutal appeal letter critique? Here it is.

Here’s the last brutal appeal letter critique, HRC’s 2015 appeal letter.


I got this letter because I gave a small donation to Human Rights Campaign at Portland Pride in 2014.

It’s 4 pages long, so I am not going to type out this entire letter for you. But I will tell you what’s right and wrong with it.

What is wrong with this letter?

It says “Dear Friend.”

The call to action is to add the equality symbol to your key chain. WTF?

They use statistics like, “In 33 states, anti-LGBT bullying isn’t covered under the law”

They have a small story buried in the middle of the back page, when it should be the first thing I read.

No picture of someone they served. No pictures, period.

The typeface is kind of small. They should have used 13 or 14 point font instead of 12 point.

Brings up how hard it was growing up in a small town in Arkansas, struggling with coming out, but doesn’t explain what it was like, what was hard, tantalizes then doesn’t tell the story.


What’s right with this letter?

It is 4 pages long, long enough to make you think they might have a good cause doing something worth reading about.

They used Times New Roman, a very readable font.

It says the word YOU twice in the first sentence.

It breaks up the text with bullet points, underlining, and bold on every page.

The next paragraph has the word YOU underlined.

The next paragraph has the word you twice.

The third paragraph makes me feel special. “And behind all that hard work are passionate, determined and courageous people like you.”

They have a small story:

“Despite this progress, I am reminded every day of why we must fight harder than ever before.

I hear from people like Carol, who was in a committed 15-year relationship when her partner, Mary, was rushed to the hospital… Mary was pregnant and haing complications … she needed Carol by her side, but the hospital wouldn’t let them be together.

Why? Because they were in a state that denied they were a family.”

I give this a B. Why? Good on donor centricity. Good on letter design. Weird with the keychain thing. Story was buried but at least there WAS a story.

You know, I actually think the donor-centricity got in the way of telling a good story with this appeal letter. There was plenty of acknowledgment of the donor, but ZERO personalization, and the story was not prominent enough. Either this letter was written by committee or they just hoped a bunch of YOU language would make you look over the fact that there was zero personalization. Honestly when I see a letter that reads Dear Friend, it doen’t get read. If it says my name, I may actually read it.

Now that you’ve read these three appeal letter critiques, you know what to do, and what not to do.

I have so much more to teach you!

Take our comprehensive 5 week appeal letter course NOW!


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