3 Fundraising Appeal Letter Lessons from Tom Ahern’s Book

Insights from “How to Write Fundraising Materials that Raise More Money"

It’s that time of year when many of us start working on the final fundraising appeal letter of the year. Are you filled with joy or dread?

Fundraising Appeal Letter

I am filled with both emotions. While I love writing, I’m feeling the pressure to create a letter that will exceed last year’s results. So, to help find my muse and confidence, I turned to the fundraising books that line my office’s bookshelves. After paging through a few, I settled on rereading Tom Ahern’s 176-page book, How to Write Fundraising Materials that Raise More Money.

This small-but-mighty book has many brilliant big ideas. This blog post will focus on 3 fundraising appeal letter lessons learned from the book. So, let’s get right to it.

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Why Good News in Your Fundraising Appeal Letters is a Bad Idea

Dang! It feels so good to share good news. We want to positively influence others and brighten their day. In our organizations, spreading news of our success stories gives us credibility. It says to donors, “Look! Your generous gift in support of our programs and services really do change lives!”

Donors do like (and need!) to hear how their gifts are making a difference, but delivering sunshiny good news when asking donors for money is putting the cart before the horse. And it’s throttling the potential success of your fundraising campaigns.

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Book Review: How to Turn Your Words Into Money

The Master Fundraiser's Guide to Persuasive Writing

This book is small but mighty! Author Jeff Brooks is masterful at breaking down complex fundraising copywriting concepts into understandable and easily actionable chunks. And his writing is laugh-out-loud funny.

Anybody who is filled with dread at the prospect of having to write fundraising copy for their nonprofit should read this.

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The Perfect Length of Your Annual Appeal Letter

How much copy do you need to write to inspire people to donate?

If you ever were faced with the task of writing your nonprofit’s fundraising annual appeal letter, you know how daunting it is to put pen to paper. After all, the expectation is that the letter you craft must bring in substantial funds. (No pressure, right?!)

When I sat down to draft my very first appeal letter, my initial thought was, “How much copy do I need to write to inspire people to donate? One, two, three, or more pages?” Like you, I receive many appeal letters in my mailbox. The letter lengths are as varied as the causes they represent. Experience and the study of the ins and outs of appeal letters have led me to the answer.

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Emailed “thank-you” tax receipts are just a part of life now, and that’s okay. But don’t stop there! Never forget the personal touch when thanking donors. Keep building the relationship. Think about grabbing some notecards and handwriting thank-yous. Be grateful. Be heartfelt. Maybe even pick up the phone and make a call? Grandma always loves hearing from you. ❤ For more nonprofit marketing memes, follow me on Instagram.

25 Reasons People Respond to Fundraising Appeals [INFOGRAPHIC]

Have you ever thought about the reasons people donate to your organization? Or, do you just assume that people support your organization for the same reasons you do?

I have been reading Mal Warwick’s How to Write Successful Fundraising Appeals.

Warwick explores the fundamentals of donor motivation and the dynamics of donor response. Over his decades of experience as a successful fundraiser, he developed a comprehensive list of the reasons people respond to fundraising appeals.

I took Warwick’s list and created an infographic to illustrate why people, after being asked for a donation, decide to go ahead and give a charitable gift.

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