November 17, 2015 \ Rachel Jellinek
Tips on Donor Communications: Writing to Raise More Money

Last week I had the pleasure of hearing Maura King Scully and Tracey Palmer speak at Philanthropy Day on Cape Cod.  They shared a lot of great takeaways – some were more technical, and others more conceptual.  I’ve shared below a couple of ideas that resonated with me the most.

When crafting any donor communications material, it is important to get into the mindset of donors and anticipate key questions they will have, such as:

  • Why do you need the money?
  • How much do you need?
  • What are you going to do with the money?
  • What will change if I send my check?
  • How does this align with my personal values?

When figuring out the answers to those questions, pay attention to any misperceptions about your organization you need to overcome.

Made to Stick Quote

In the video world, we are always talking about stories, stories, stories.  Maura and Tracey emphasized that storytelling in writing is crucial too, especially if you can make donors feel like the heroes and heroines they are, due to their positive impact on your organization.

Focus on the one thought, feeling or action that you want donors to have or take. In writing, just like with video, if you attempt to embed multiple calls-to-action, you are going to make things too complicated, dilute your message and not get desired results.

On the more technical side of things, Maura and Tracey suggested:

  • Having only one signer per letter (This is more authentic.  The letter should be from the person who most resonates with the audience.)
  • To make your content more visually interesting and easier to digest, remember to use subheadings, photos, bullet points and lists, as well as compelling quotes.
  • And don’t forget to include a great P.S. that highlights an additional part of the story you are sharing or emphasizes the donor’s contribution to your success!