Direct Mail Fundraising – Tips to Improve Your Letter Writing

Fundraising letter writing tips to incorporate into your next direct mail campaign

With direct mail use up this year, nonprofit organizations are increasing the use of direct marketing for fundraising. And the key to a successful fundraising campaign is a strong letter. Having said that, few nonprofit organizations can afford to hire a professional, and it usually falls to one of the staff to write the letter.

But with a few tips and a little practice, you can write an effective fundraising letter that will capture your reader’s attention … and open their wallet.

Direct mail writing isn’t the “proper” writing we learned in high school. If your initial attempts seem that way, you’re trying too hard. You want your writing to come across as conversational and warm.

1. Write as if you’re talking to a good acquaintance. Use the words “I” and “we,” but use the word “you” even more often.

2. Use simple, straightforward language and short sentences. Feel free to use anecdotes and stories to engage your donor in your organization’s work, but don’t exaggerate or fabricate information.

3. Tell your donor how much to give, and what it will provide. Donors like to feel as if they’ve paid for something concrete: Ms. Smith, your $25 donation will provide one family with clean drinking water for a year.

4. Use subheads. Especially on longer letters, subheads are an important way to break up multiple paragraphs of text. Plus, most readers may skim the letter copy, but will definitely read the subheads.

5. Underlining or bold type – used sparingly - will capture your donor’s eyes. You can use it to draw attention to important information or a call to action.

6. Create a sense of urgency by asking your donor to send in their donation before a specific deadline. Because if you don’t, they probably won’t ever do it.

7. Don’t forget the P.S. Nearly every reader will look at a letter’s P.S. (see our blog on the direct mail eye study here), so you’ll definitely want to restate your request.

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Marketing Your Company With Postcards

Postcards are the workhorse of the direct marketing industry, and companies are turning to them now more than ever. And why not? A postcard is like sending a mini billboard through the mail. They're simple to create, and can put your company right in front of your intended audience for very little money.

Why should you consider postcard marketing?

1. Postcards can generate website traffic or sales leads at a low cost. Four-color printing is inexpensive these days, and you can create a card that your client ends up keeping for months.

2. Postcards are eye-catching, and are the best-read direct mail pieces.

3. They create instant brand awareness, and can be included almost anywhere in a direct marketing campaign. For instance, use them as a save-the-date card in advance of a beautiful invitation to a fundraiser. Or send them after a sales letter to spur response.

3. Postcards are easy and quick. There's no envelope to design and very little copy to write. You can have a new postcard campaign out within a week.

How to create an effective postcard:

1. When designing your card, keep your message as brief as possible. State clearly and simply what you can offer your customer, or how you can help.

2. Use a catchy headline. Make sure it's interesting and easy to read at first glance.

3. Choose your image wisely. It should support the accompanying headline, be interesting and make the reader want to flip the card over.

4. Repeat after me: use only ONE idea per card. By focusing on one topic, you can develop it clearly and make a strong offer.

5. Be sure to tell your reader what to do next, and make it as easy as possible for them to respond. The easier you make it, the more likely they will be to take that next step: buying from you.


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Whoopsie - USPS Uses Wrong Statue of Liberty on Stamp

The USPS accidentally used a picture of a replica Statue of Liberty that stands in front of the Las Vegas New York-New York hotel, instead of the one in New York Harbor on its new forever Liberty Stamp.

Linn's Stamp News first broke the story. You can read it the entire article here.

The face on the stamp has different hair and the eyes are more sharply defined. The stamp was issued in December 2010.

Red-faced USPS officials say they regret the mistake and will try to prevent such errors in the future.
The new USPS Liberty Stamp
 is actually a photo of a Las
 Vegas replica.

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Postal Discount For Mailpieces With QR Code

The Postal Service filed for a three percent discount in July and August, 2011 for any commercial mailpiece that contains a QR code.

The USPS is using the promotion to highlight the integration of direct mail with mobile technology. The discount will apply to first class and standard letters and flats. Nonprofit mail is not part of the promotion.

To qualify, mailpieces must include a two-dimensional mobile barcode inside or on the mailer that is readable by a smartphone. The code must be used to market, promote or educate.

You can read the complete USPS notice here.

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