I noticed a pattern that I want to share with you.
We see a LOT of appeals around here and I read them all. And we spend a lot of time with the results because we want our coaching to be based on what works, not on what we like.
About a week ago I noticed the appeals that did not work well tended to follow the same general outline. It goes something like this:
- Thank you for helping in the past
- Let me tell you a story about someone we already helped
- Please help us continue this good work
I think this is fascinating because every step of that outline makes sense:
- Of course you should thank your donors for their previous giving. That’s just being polite, and it reminds them that they’ve given before.
- Of course you should tell them a story about a person (or thing) that’s already been helped. That shows the donor that their past gifts made a difference, that the donor can trust you, and that your organization is effective.
- And of course you should ask them to help you continue the good work. You need their donations, and the work is good.
But here’s the thing; even though every step in that outline makes sense, appeal letters and e-appeals that follow this outline don’t raise as much money as they could. We know this from years of experimenting and testing. This is one of those places in fundraising where common sense isn’t the best sense. What you need is data.
So what’s the alternative? Here’s the outline that works best for our clients:
- There’s a problem right now
- You are needed to solve it
- Here’s how your gift will solve it
When our clients adopt this outline, their appeals and e-appeals immediately start to raise more money.
The next time you are appealing for funds, follow this model. You’ll raise more money. And your donors will love knowing that they helped solve a real, urgent problem.
I mean that. If you honor and respect your donors by sharing real problems that your beneficiaries and your organization are facing, Donors will love helping you. Be vulnerable with your donors, and they will reward you with their generosity!
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