Funding Change Consulting Blog Advice

Assessing Your Fundraising Appeal: Direct Mail Bootcamp (part 2 of 4)

Does your year-end appeal hit the mark?

Last week, I walked you through two appeals letters I’d received—one good, and one…not so good.

Today, for your second installment of the September Direct Mail Bootcamp, I’ve got a checklist of questions to help you assess whether your year-end fundraising appeal is hitting the mark.

If you’ve already gotten started on your appeal, kudos to you…you’re way ahead of the game! As you refine and finalize things, run yourself through these questions to make sure you’ve got everything covered.

If your letter is on that (always lengthy) “to do” list, do yourself a favor and take a peek at these questions before you get started. Maybe even think about how you’ll answer some of them before you start writing.

Is Your Fundraising Appeal Hitting the Mark?

Answer the questions below to assess the effectiveness of your fundraising appeal. Being able to answer “YES!” to each is critical to the success of your appeal. If you find yourself circling “NO,” keep working on it until you get to yes!

(Click here to download a PDF/DOC version of this tool.)

The Story

  • Does the first sentence make you want to keep reading?  YES / NO
  • Does the letter include a compelling personal story?  YES / NO
  • Is the problem clear?  YES / NO
  • Does the letter offer hope?  YES / NO
  • Is the message repeated several times throughout the letter?  YES / NO
  • Is the call to action obvious?  YES / NO

The Ask

  • Is the impact of giving (and not giving) stated directly?  YES / NO
  • Does the letter outline the benefits of giving?  YES / NO
  • Is the request urgent with a need to act now?  YES / NO
  • Is it clear the donor can make a difference by giving?  YES / NO
  • Are you asking many times, starting on the first page?  YES / NO
  • Does the letter ask the donor for an appropriate gift amount?  YES / NO

The Tone

  • Is the letter casual, conversational, and framed as one person writing to another person (vs. writing to a group of people)?  YES / NO
  • Does the word “you” appear frequently? YES / NO
  • Is the letter free of insider talk, abbreviations, and other jargon?  YES / NO
  • Are the sentences and paragraphs short?  YES / NO
  • Is the reading level of the letter sixth grade or lower? (Check using a tool like Hemingway or Flesch-Kincaid.)  YES / NO

The Format

  • Is there a P.S. that reinforces the ask?  YES / NO
  • Does the letter have at least one-inch margins?  YES / NO
  • Is there ample white space between lines and paragraphs?  YES / NO
  • Are you using bold, underlines, and italics strategically?  YES / NO
  • Are lists formatted with bullets?  YES / NO
  • Will there be a reply card, specific to this appeal and personalized with the donor’s information, included as part of the package?  YES / NO
  • Are you including a return envelope?   YES / NO
  • Does the mailing envelope make you curious what’s inside?   YES / NO
Tina Cincotti, owner of Funding Change, is a donor communications expert and general nonprofit nerd.
September 11, 2018

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