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The Most Important Question

A fundraising appeal letter really has one job and that’s to raise money for your organization, right?

If it can also do other things like increase brand awareness, spread the word about your cause, or share breaking news, all the better.

When all is said and done, however, the letter that you send out will be judged by its response rate, average gift amount, and how much it cost to raise a dollar.

That’s why when you’re deciding to leave this, that, or the other thing in or out of your letter, there is one simple question to ask yourself: How is this going to affect my results?

Make no mistake, all of the other messaging benefits are important and can strengthen the ask in your letter. But sometimes they can also district readers from the ask itself, which you never want to do. For example, quoting a lot of statistics makes readers think analytically instead of emotionally. This can reduce the amount they may potentially donate or even make them re-think whether they want to give at all.

There never is a single yes or no answer to The Most Important Question. What it requires is experience, judgment, and a willingness to put your personal preferences on the back burner, at least momentarily.

But if you can focus less on what you want to say and more on what will make readers want to give, you’ll be a lot better off down the road—when the details of the message are forgotten, and you’re held responsible for its results.

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