As you know, I LOVE to help people write more effective appeal letters.

Here’s an appeal letter that I just got from Medcins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders. It is a very effective appeal letter. Let’s look at why.

Doctors Without Borders Appeal letter Front 2015

Doctors without Borders Appeal Letter Front

What makes this an effective appeal letter?

  1. They are giving me a membership card, similar to a credit card, with my name and number on it, to get me to feel like I’m part of the team. It’s in plastic, on the front of their letter. (Mazarine, I hear you say. We can’t afford to do that! OK, what about a paper one, instead? Can you do that?)
  2. Lots and lots of subheads. Their subheads say things like “Every day we work in crisis mode” “Be part of our lifesaving work. Donate now to help Doctors Without Borders medical teams who are … ” “Fighting and preventing deadly epidemics” “Saving lives under fire in armed conflict zones” “Ready to respond when natural disaster strikes” “Saving children and families from malnutrition”
  3. They personalize it with my name. I love that!
  4. Their second paragraph includes ME. They say, “We need you today. Will you help Doctors without borders save lives in nearly 70 countries around the world?”
  5. Two asks on the front page.
  6. Personalization of the header! “Mazarine, are you ready to join Doctors without Borders?” and
  7. Another ask in the header “Your donation today will have an immediate impact”
  8. They tell me where the money goes, in their brochure (they call it a poster).
  9. They have a nice persuasive buckslip! If you want to see it in detail, just put your email below and you’ll get access to the whole direct mail pack immediately.
  10. Nice ask at the end, “As these crises erupt around the world, Doctors without borders depends on donations from people like you to respond quickly and start saving lives. Please make a tax-deductible gift now to help Doctors without Borders treat more patients who desperately need our help.”
  11. They use social proof all over the letter.
  12. They go beyond the subheads with a big headline at the bottom of the page, saying “Act Now. Every Moment is Critical”, then they tell you, in a slightly smaller font, what they want you to do. “Complete and mail the attached donation form today” and then, in smaller bold font, they say, “Or visit donate.doctorswithoutborders.org.”


Where they lose me is when they start talking about all of their stats. Does it really matter to me, as a donor, that they have done 618,188 malaria consultations, OR, say, 518,188? NOT REALLY.

They also don’t have a strong story in this appeal. I wonder if they tested stories and they tested stats, and they found that stats outperformed stories?

However, they were savvy with their stats, for the donor who reads through to the end, they put the stats about children as the last stat. 6,784 children treated for malnutrition. People LOVE to give to starving children. So they are making the most of that.

They also have pictures of kids in their brochure.

This is a powerful direct mail appeal package and I would love to share it with you. You can use it for your swipe file whether you’re in international aid relief, healthcare, or even animal shelters. This letter has some strong direct mail examples that you can apply to a number of causes.

If you’d like to learn how to use

  1. Social Proof
  2. Staff quotes and
  3. Infographics in a brochure with your mailing, you will love the full direct mail pack.


If you’d like to get a look at the entire direct mail pack, just put in your name and email below, and I’ll send it to you right away.

MEdcins Sans Frontiers pack