As a nonprofit professional, you know that strategic fundraising practices are critical for ensuring that your organization is fully funded and ready to meet your constituents’ needs. Luckily for you, fundraising letters have proven time again to be the most effective way to raise money for nonprofits of all shapes and sizes.
Here at GivingMail, we work with a wide variety of charitable organizations to assist them in raising much-needed fundraising dollars to support their causes. Our specialty? Fundraising letters!
That’s why we’ve put together this quick resource to help guide your team through the uncertainties of direct mail fundraising—whether it’s your first campaign or you’re a seasoned fundraising expert. When creating your fundraising letters, we suggest the following best practices for maximized success:
- Leveraging donor management tools
- Including specific donation suggestions
- Thanking your donors for their support
- Sending your appeals with a direct mail platform
These tried-and-true tips can help you get your mailings in the hands of the people that are most likely to contribute and seals the deal in getting them to send over their donations.
Are you ready to learn more about drafting and sending the best fundraising letters for your cause? Let’s get started.
1. Leverage donor management tools.
As you create your campaigns, and specifically, draft your fundraising letters, there is nothing more important than targeting the right audience. One way to ensure you do so is by tracking your supporters through a donor management system.
Donor management systems, or CRMs, are used for a wide variety of tasks. However, some essential uses include tracking your donors’ actions, donation tendencies, level of involvement in your organization, and other useful data points.
It then uses this valuable data to understand better what is going on in your organization and how involved your supporters are. This also helps you segment your audience effectively, which is crucial in maximizing donations through optimized fundraising letters.
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Studying your donors’ tendencies allows you to better appeal to what is important to them and target what they feel is crucial in deciding whether or not to contribute to your cause.
According to GivingMail’s donor management software guide, another great use for this tool is to use the data to turn supporters into donors and encourage existing donors to make larger contributions. This will help boost your net donations and provide stable revenue streams for the future.
Unfortunately, many growing nonprofits put off investing in a donor management tool, opting instead to handle donor information via manually updated spreadsheets. However, contrary to popular belief, donor management software can be affordable, even for smaller organizations, when choosing the right providers. Small nonprofits with limited budgets will often select a free or low-cost software solution at first. Still, it’s a good idea to do your research on available platforms and ensure you’re making the right choice for your team.
2. Include specific donation suggestions.
It might seem easiest to include a vague call to action in your fundraising letters asking recipients to give what they can to your organization. However, it’s typically a better idea to incorporate specific donation sizes in your asks to drive the most outstanding results.
Including suggested amounts for a donation is a great way to make donating feel both manageable and impactful, thus optimizing your fundraising letters and maximizing revenue. This helps to inform the supporter about exactly where their money is going, often pushing them to make that ever-important contribution to your cause. Take a look at these examples:
- A donation of $25 can provide school supplies to one student in need
- A donation of $100 can provide school supplies for a family of four
- A donation of $500 can provide school supplies for an entire classroom
Suppose you had gone with the generic “anything helps” type of ask in your fundraising letters. In that case, you might have gotten a donation of $50, whereas providing specific suggestions might inspire the recipient to bump their gift up to $100 or even more.
This is because it makes people feel like their gift is less of a drop in the bucket and more of a significant contribution toward a specific goal. Creating a sense of urgency in your donation asks can lead donors to give more and faster than they previously would have. Just remember, you should always include an option for the donor to input their amount so they can choose to go lower, higher, or between tiers if they’d like.
3. Thank your donors for their support.
Thanking your donors for their contributions and support is arguably the most important step in retaining your donors and keeping their morale high. Sending a thank-you note is a basic and respectful way to make sure your donors know you are grateful for their generosity, and free templates like these can provide you with an excellent basis to get started. It’s a good idea to send an emailed appreciation message within 24-48 hours of receiving a donation while also following up with a physical thank-you letter the following week.
For your larger-level supporters, you might make a phone call from a high-level person at your organization to let the donor know that their help did not go unnoticed and that they are a very valued partner in your mission.
Here are some additional ways to recognize your donors and thank them for their support:
- Putting their names on your website or a physical donor recognition wall
- Including them in organization-wide outreach
- Posting about their contributions on social media
In short, thanking your donors is a great way to make sure people feel good about contributing to your cause. It’s also a step in the right direction toward consistent, long-term contributions.
It is always more cost-efficient to keep existing donors on board than to continually seek new donors. While sending a follow-up thank you letter can be a great start, it’s a good idea to incorporate other appreciation tactics as well—like these donor recognition ideas from Eleven Fifty Seven.
4. Send your appeals with a direct mail platform.
Crafting and sending fundraising letters can seem like a lot of work, especially for smaller organizations with limited staff numbers. Luckily, dedicated direct mail platforms exist to help nonprofits like yours pull off successful fundraising campaigns while retaining time, money, and effort for what matters: your mission.
One key thing to remember when sending out direct mail for nonprofits is your call to action. Direct mail solicitation only works if you have a very clear ask that is easy and compelling for the recipient to follow—and a direct mail platform makes this process as simple and effective as possible.
The right direct mail platform offers a great chance to work with long-standing experts in the fundraising space who can advise on creating, producing, and sending powerful appeals to prospective donors. You can think of it as an extension of your fundraising team!All in all, strategically crafted donation letters have the potential to bring your fundraising efforts to the next level. And these tactics are becoming increasingly accessible to smaller and growing organizations as well. By incorporating these best practices into your overall strategy, you’ll be sure to raise more for your organization and continue driving your mission forward.
After all, a tangible piece of mail is a great way to separate yourself from other charities vying for your audience’s attention. Just remember to leverage your CRM, include suggested donation requests, work with a dedicated direct mail fundraising company, and communicate your appreciation to donors effectively. Good luck!