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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Awesome #GivingTuesday Tips, Resources & Other Cool Stuff

Everything your nonprofit needs is right at your fingertips!

Approaching its 6th year in existence, #GivingTuesday has become a powerful philanthropic movement. This year, this day of giving will be on November 28th. Are you getting ready for this amazing opportunity?

GivingTuesday Tips Resources

#GivingTuesday is a day where charities, community members, and businesses worldwide come together for a common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving.

I have a committee meeting this week with my Marketing & Communications team, and I’ve been researching how to make this social-media-fueled day of giving as successful as possible for us. What I found is wildly helpful, so I’m going to share it with you.

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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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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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6 Super Cool Email Marketing Takeaways from John Haydon’s Talk at Cause Camp 2017

How to raise more money with email

I’m all jazzed up and inspired from attending this year’s Cause Camp! Cause Camp is the annual 2-day nonprofit conference hosted by Nonprofit Hub in Lincoln, Nebraska. The folks at Nonprofit Hub booked the ‘dream team’ of speakers from both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors.

The first time I heard about Cause Camp was last month – in an email I received from John Haydon, a digital PR and fundraising expert. I subscribe to John’s emails and was sucked into a Cause Camp goofy video he made. Within 24 hours, I had bought my plane ticket to Nebraska, made my hotel reservation, and signed up for Cause Camp 2017!

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A Fundraiser on Saturday – Understanding the Differences Between Marketing, Public Relations & Sales

Marketing, advertising, promotion, publicity, pubic relations, and sales... oh my!

Need a clear explanation of the differences between an array of marketing terms? I’ve got one for you! P.T. Barnum is credited with a little story that succinctly differentiates marketing, advertising, promotion, publicity, public relations and sales. I’ve taken the liberty of modernizing the story and rewriting it from the perspective of a nonprofit.

Here it is. I’m calling it A Fundraiser on Saturday.

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Don’t Let Your Early Bird Event Pricing Hurt Your Overall Ticket Sales for Your Fundraiser

One marketing tactic that is a huge turn-off to potential event-goers

Early Bird ticket pricing is essential to the success of your event. Weeks prior to the start of ticket sales, you’ve created excitement through your emails, blog, and social media posts. Your supporters are anticipating getting their hot little hands on the first available tickets. Then the sales begin – and yippie! – a rush of people scoop up tickets at a great price. Likewise, a firm end date to the Early Bird pricing gives the tire-kickers the motivation to take action.

But there is one Early Bird marketing tactic that is a HUGE turn-off to potential event-goers. And it’s so simple to correct.

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