If you’re like most people right now, you’re either sending your appeal letter or writing it furiously, to get it sent out ASAP.
The founder of H.O.P.E. Inc, Kenita Pierce-Lewis, asked me to have a look at her appeal letter, to see what I could do with it.
On the right you’ll see her first draft of the appeal letter.
Notice that it is in a sans-serif font, 10 point font, and that there are large blocks of text. Notice the stock photograph.
Notice there are statistics mixed in with the story, there are two stories, and that the letter tells the story of the founder in the third person.
Now look at my edited version. What have I done to improve the letter?
1. Enhancing readability: I have changed the blocks of text by indenting and spacing every few sentences.
2. Picture: I took out the stock photograph and kept the picture of the real person she also enclosed.
3. Providing stoppers, increasing scannability, spaced the letter so that there were bigger spaces between the paragraphs and the header text.
4. I changed the font to a serif font, and made the font 13 point.
4. I took out the grant-writing speak, where sentences like “single mothers face especially daunting challenges in their efforts to obtain a degree. Compared to married parents, single parents are more likely to have low incomes, have greater challenges paying tuition and arranging childcare.” are common. I did this because nobody talks like this. Taking a page from David Oglivy, who said, “Write like you talk.
5. I rewrote and paced the story more slowly, building up the tension, focusing lovingly on the details, helping the reader get into the shoes of the person in need.
As you can see, people start to care less the more stories there are. (Source of Stats: Small, D. A., Loewenstein, G., & Slovic, P. (2007). Sympathy and callousness: The impact of deliberative thought on donations to identiﬁable and statistical victims. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 102, 143–153)
They care more if there is one story, one person’s problem that they can feel confident in solving. Statistics don’t help them give.
Want to download the full edited appeal letter? Here you go.
What am I trying to share with you here?
Kenita reached out to me to learn, and to amplify her cause. Over the last several months, I’ve taught her team different things, and we’ve built a relationship.
Marshall Kirkpatrick, in a recent article called “The Value of Online Influencers is not parroting your message” says:
What if the best gift a top market influencer could share with you was not their voice, but their mind? People at the top of their game aren’t just good at doing what they do—they’re really good at learning how to do it better.
In the last three years, over writing appeal letters for different nonprofits and teaching about how to write them, I have gotten better and better about writing in a persuasive way.
I would like to share my mind with you.
That’s why I’m opening up my 6 month fundraising coaching program to just 3 lucky people.
What can we work on?
- Helping you get your board members to fundraise
- Helping you find new donors.
- Helping you convince sponsors to sponsor your event,
- Helping you keep the donors you have.
- Helping you make your website more effective to get people to click donate
- Helping you write e-newsletters that get people to click donate
- And more!
Who this is NOT for:
If you’re someone who needs a lot of hand-holding, who likes to complain a lot, or who is in absolutely desperate straits, about to close the doors of the nonprofit, this is not for you.
Who this IS for:
If you’re ready to take your fundraising to the next level, if 2013 is the year you finally start getting tons of money in the mail, or 10 new major donors, or the board members that are fired up to help you get a sold-out gala event, then maybe this coaching thing is for you.
I am opening this application process until December 31st, 2012.
After these three spots are gone, that’s it. I’d love to help more people one on one, but my time is limited. Yours is too. I want to help you avoid the mistakes I made. I want to give you all of the shortcuts, the fundraising tips, the editing, the quick and dirty ways to get it all done. I want to help you shine and raise all of the money you deserve!