Why You Should Send a Letter Now


Here’s why you should probably be sending out an emergency appeal letter to your donor file:

This chart shows the percentage of revenue that’s coming in from different generations.

Direct mail appeals work very well at reaching the group of folks in blue on the right.

You know, the ones who (statistically speaking) have the most compassion and money to give you right now.

And you know, the people who your email and social probably aren’t reaching in significant numbers.

To any organization who is considering using direct mail for their coronavirus fundraising,


I can’t say that everyone should do it. But chances are, you should.

Here’s how to think about it to make a good decision for your organization:

  • If the coronavirus or the current situation is harming your beneficiaries, your cause, or your organization, then you should be fundraising now.
  • If you’ve sent out an emergency e-appeal and it raised more than a “normal” e-appeal raises…
  • If you’re able to convert your e-appeal into a direct mail appeal and get it in the mail quickly…

Then you should absolutely send out an “emergency direct mail appeal.”

Get it written (your e-appeal is your first draft – and maybe your final draft!) and send it as fast as you can.

Speed matters. If your donors are going to give emergency gifts to five organizations, you don’t want to be the 7th organization who asks them.

And if you can’t get a letter out to everyone quickly, then figure out how to get a letter out to your top donors in the next couple days. One tactic we see working: print out your e-appeal, handwrite a note on the top and send it to your major donors along with a generic reply card and envelope.

The Big Idea here is to use the mail to reach your major donors and the LARGE group of compassionate folks who would like to help but aren’t email responsive. Good luck out there. And we’ll be posting helpful tips every day for the foreseeable future.

Free Review Fridays


Don’t miss this if you’re doing any fundraising over the next 4 weeks.

This Friday at 10:00 am Pacific Time I’ll be reviewing COVID-19/Coronavirus fundraising.

You can submit your material for review by going here to sign up (it’s free).

I’ll be using the reviews to teach you what to do – and what not to do – to raise money effectively during this crisis.

I’ll give you lessons from previous crises so that your organization doesn’t make the mistakes that others have already made and learned from.

Because it’s a great time to raise money. But most organizations don’t move quickly enough, or they send out messages that are mostly irrelevant to their donors.

You should tune in this Friday because it’s not too late to take advantage of the massive surge in giving that’s going on even as you read this email.

Donor generosity is blowing us away these past few days. They WANT to help!

So sign up for free and I’ll see you on Friday at 10:00 AM Pacific time!

COVID-19 fundraising principles


If you’re going to raise money for your beneficiaries and/or cause during the pandemic, follow these principles, and you’ll raise more money.

Note: Everything I’m about to say assumes one important thing – the current pandemic situation impacts your organization, cause, and/or beneficiaries. That could be the virus. It could be the economy. It could be travel restrictions. In other words, that there are “new or more needs” that you’re dealing with.

Here are the principles Better Fundraising is living by as we work with clients:

Speed matters. Sometime soon, several hundred thousand organizations are going to realize they’re in trouble and are going to send out e-appeals. You want to beat them to your donors’ inboxes. Don’t wait until the next vacancy in your communication schedule – cancel what’s coming next and replace it with something urgent.

Volume matters. Your donors’ attention is more fragmented than usual. That means your email open rates are going to drop by 20%. Your direct mail open rates will drop too. That means fewer people will see what you send out. And if fewer people see what you send out, you raise less money. So you need to send out more things.

Simplicity matters. You have less of your donors’ attention than you normally do. If your donor usually reads two paragraphs of your email before deciding whether to read the rest, for the next weeks, she’s only going to read one paragraph. So you have to get to the point quickly, and you have to keep it very simple.

Acute needs raise money. We’ve already seen this several times in the last five days. If your beneficiaries or organization is facing a critical need, share it with your donors. Donors LOVE acute needs.

So if your beneficiaries are short of rent money because their service industry jobs have been slashed, ask your donors to provide rent money. If you’re $1 million event was just canceled, ask donors to help erase your $1 million shortfall.

Make it clear – make it simple. Resist the urge to over-explain. Send it fast.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s a video I made with an 8-point outline for a successful e-appeal.

Good luck out there!

SPECIAL POST: Follow This Formula to Raise Money Right Now [FREE VIDEO]


If the COVID-19/Coronavirus is hurting your beneficiaries or your organization, your donors would love to help by sending in a special gift.

Here’s a formula we created to help organizations during this time of need. Follow this formula to create a simple email that works extraordinarily well:

  1. Quickly acknowledge that things aren’t normal right now
  2. Describe how the situation (COVID-19 or the economy) is hurting your cause / beneficiaries / organization
  3. Ask for a special gift to help (link to your donation page)
  4. Very short story to illustrate the need
  5. Show how the donor’s gift perfectly meets the need
  6. Show how the need from the story is not the only need
  7. Share that the funds needed are not in the budget
  8. Ask the donor to send an emergency gift right now (link to your donation page)

We’re sending this out as quickly as possible because this formula is WORKING. Every email that’s been sent out using it has been a big success.

If you’d like to watch a video of me explaining the formula in more detail, along with an example of an email that follows the formula, click here.

Resist the urge to over-explain. Keep it simple and get it in front of your donors as quickly as you can!

Then get in touch and let us know how well the formula worked for you and your organization!