By Rachel Eichem, Resource Development Director
The frustration that comes with writing a donor appeal letter is that you know right off the bat that a few things are going to happen. One, the reader is going to give it a quick scan and decide in about 3 seconds if it is worth any more of their time. Two, they are going to hone in on that P.S. you have ended with and rate your entire letter from that one sentence. It’s the post-script that your whole message lives and dies by.
So no matter how much detail and fact, passion and pulling-at-the-heartstrings you manage to get in the body of that letter. You had better have a darn good P.S.
Now I l get all giddy for a good quote. They hang all over my home and my office. I like to put them in my letters. I like to start with them, end with them, and inspire my reader with them. I want to make whoever is reading my letter to know I was thinking of them when they read the quote I chose. Hopefully it will connect them to my work, and more importantly, to our organizations purpose.
I want to use the beauty and power of someone else’s words to help me say what needs to be said. My organization does essential work, important work, life changing work. It comes at a cost, despite all of our volunteer hours, and gift-in kind donations. We need donors like you to fund us, to sustain us, to lift us up. So that we can do the same for all of the people we support. How do I capture all of this in a P.S.? How do I make you want to read the story behind all of that? Which quote will connect to the most people? What can I say that will move you to get your credit card out?
I take good notes from my bed-side tablet at 2:30am, for sure. That’s when the magic happens- the best ideas pop into my head. I take pictures of quotes that I see when I am out, words that me in my tracks, and I believe will impact others. I scratch out sentences on scrap paper all the time. And every once in a while, I cull through them for what is worth keeping, and what should be trashed. It’s a process.
You need to read the whole letter. You need to connect to an organization, a mission, a cause that makes you feel good and that you can tell your family and friends with pride about your support of that organization.
United Way of Hunterdon County is that type of organization. Please check us out and like us on Facebook, connect with us on LinkedIn, or visit our website.
P.S. “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else” – Booker T. Washington