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Why Your Letter Isn’t Being Read

Listen, I sympathize with you. I really do.

Here you are all excited about your organization’s accomplishments so far this year, and yet you’re simply not getting the responses you expected.

“Accomplishments” may be the problem. If you’re inundating people with how great your cause is, they’re going to stop reading what you’ve sent them.

You see, many unsuccessful fundraising letters focus on statistics or offer general overviews of what the organization has made possible. Well, guess what. Almost without exception, it’s not the organization that has made something possible. It’s donor support.

To be perfectly blunt, donors aren’t interested in what you’ve “made happen.” They are interested in how you’ve used the money they’ve sent you.

Your letter MUST speak specifically about what your donor needs to know in order to continue to support your cause.

You should be telling the story one person or one family.

It’s really wonderful if a nonprofit organization has helped one hundred survivors of a tornado find temporary housing. Human beings, however, have a difficult time visualizing one hundred people at one time. Your readers are far more likely to feel an emotional tug when they hear the story of just one person.

That’s why you should find one of the most heartfelt or emotional stories available to you and share it with your donors. Let them know that they helped a mom with a special needs child find the housing she desperately needed, for example. When you use a story of this type with an easily identifiable number you will pack a real punch. Combine that with letting donors know they can participate in the same kind of feel-good story for a specific amount of money and I’ll bet you’ll be very happy with your results.

Use “you” or “your” language. Don’t tell the donor that your organization made the difference. Instead, say something like, “You can help this mother and son find a temporary home.” It’s the emotional one-to-one connection that will keep donors supporting your cause.

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