Expert Fundraiser is offering 10 telephone seminars during the last week of May, 2012.Each session is 90 minutes and includes time for questions. You canparticipate from anywhere in the world that has a phone.The presenter is Alan Sharpe, CFRE, direct mail fundraising consultant, author and coach. The cost of each tele-seminar is CDN$49. These tele-seminars will NOT be recorded. [Read more...]
You have a dramatic, interesting, compelling story to tell about someone who has been helped by your non-profit organization. You are sure that this story will stir your donors’ emotions and boost your response rates and revenue.
So how should you tell the story? You have two options.
You can either (A) tell it from your point of view, or (B) you can let the person who experienced your organization tell their story in their own words. I recommend you go with Option B whenever possible, although this style of letter has its disadvantages.
In a first-person letter, the person that the story is about writes and signs the letter. For example, if you are a hospital, and you have an amazing story to tell about a patient who was dead on arrival but is alive today because of the intervention of your hospital staff, this type of story would be told in the patient’s own words.
The letter might begin like this: “On a sunny afternoon last September, I arrived at the Metro Health Hospital dead. I had no pulse, no blood pressure, and I wasn’t breathing. Not good, you’ll agree. But here I am a year later, telling you my story, and all because of the amazing staff of the hospital, who saved my life.” The letter would continue with the patient telling his story, and conclude by asking the reader to make a donation.
1. A story told in the first-person is invariably more dramatic and interesting than when the same story is related second-hand by a staff member. The writer of Amazing Grace wrote: “I once was blind, but now I see,” not, “John Newton once was blind but now he sees.”
2. They make your claims more believable because they get the people you serve to make them for you. An ex-patient who suffered a heart-attack, but whose life was saved by hospital staff, can say that the cardiology department is among the best in the world, and be believed, but if his surgeon says the same thing in a letter, donors will think he is just bragging.
3. Letters written by people who have been helped by your organization prove in a personal way that you are making a difference in the world. That’s because stories of lives changed, told by the people whose lives were changed, are more persuasive than stories told about them.
1. Letters written in the first-person by the people your organization helps or the people you serve have no institutional authority. A letter written by your CEO obviously speaks on behalf of your organization. But a letter written by someone who has used your services speaks about their experience, and nothing more. Only a letter written by a staff member or board member can tell donors about your strategic direction, describe your programs, and show how past support from donors is making a difference at your organization today.
Fundraising letters written in the first-person by the people your non-profit helps are likely the strongest letters you will mail, but not all of your letters can be written this way. Your clients cannot tell your story as well as you can, and you can’t tell their stories as well as they can. At least half of your letters need to come from your organization, written by and signed by a person in senior leadership.
Learn more about how to write better fundraising letters. Read Breakthrough Fundraising Letters, Pushing the Envelope, or one of Alan Sharpe’s many handbooks about direct mail fundraising.
By Alan Sharpe, CFRE
Your donors have only one question that bothers them. If you want to acquire more donors, you have to answer it. If you want to raise more net revenue, you need to answer it. And if you want to increase the lifetime value of your donors, you must answer it.
Here’s their question: “How will my donation change the world?” [Read more...]
Yes, grandma tweets daily about her arthritis and buys her cat food on eBay, but how does she prefer to donate, online or offline?
Yes, mailing a fundraising letter costs more than sending an email appeal. But which method brings in the most net revenue for most non-profits? [Read more...]
By Alan Sharpe, CFREThe ten dumbest words ever spoken in the English language are: “We don’t have money in our fundraising budget for that.”
The people who say this most often are board members. Uninformed board members. Timid board members. Board members who don’t understand that charitable organizations live or die by their donors, and that you and I must spend money to acquire, steward, upgrade and retain our donors.
The surest way to win board approval for your donor acquisition and stewardship budget is to know your long-term donor value. [Read more...]