Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fundraising Letter Fall Flat? Check for These Mistakes

Nonprofits around the country are starting to gear up for year-end fundraising campaigns, and that means scrutinizing any disappointing direct mail results from last year for areas to correct. We can help them analyze response by list, segment and package, but when it comes to marketing copy missteps, we'll pass along the advice of Joanne Fritz, nonprofit charitable orgs expert for In her June online post, "8 Things You Should Never Do in a Fundraising Letter," Fritz starts with a fundamental error that our mailing data services can help nonprofit clients avoid: lack of personalization or faulty personalization. It's hard to say which is worse in the eyes of a donor, an impersonal "Dear Friend," using the wrong name or misspelling a name! Fritz also notes various copy and design flaws that can make the mailing so difficult to get through that potential donors toss it. For example, a mail package overwhelmed by inserts can confuse recipients into inaction. Appeals can sink under the weight of fancy vocabulary, too; the most effective promotions are written at the 4th-6th grade level, say experts. Hard-to-read design elements--such as reverse-out type or small fonts--can frustrate others, especially older recipients. And remember that urgency drives action. If you don't want donors to set aside your appeal and forget it, stress that you need a donation now and what will happen to needy people, animals or causes if those funds don't come. As added incentive, offer to match their gift if they act right away. Fritz provides links to real-life effective mailings as examples of how to succeed with simple yet emotionally resonant appeals. For more of Fritz's fundraising letter taboos, read

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