Giving should be simple. How long was your last solicitation letter? Half a page, two pages? How many stories did you tell? How many statistics from your organization did you quote? If you are like many non-profits today you probably said, “my letter was a page and a half, I told the donor all about my administrative rate, why they should give, how it will help them, what the program they are giving to is, what the program does, where their money went, where there money will go, how many people we serve, etc.” I think you are getting the point.
Information should be transparent and easy to find. You cannot say everything in one solicitation or thank you letter. Your letters should be under a page and describe what you are asking your donor for and why. Yes, there are other things you need to include, but do not dilute the point (or ask) of the letter with too much information.
A solicitation letter should have three things in it:
1. What is it that you are asking for (ie. cash gift of $20,000, auction item)? Be specific donors will often give no more than you ask from them. But will often give more than they intend to if you ask for a reasonable and specific amount (make sure to have your contact information and a response envelope).
2. Why you are asking for it? This is a really good place to summarize your mission or tell a story about your organization (make sure that your organizations name is in the letter).
3. Where the money will be going? This should be very obvious but sometimes it isn’t see my post, Broad and Transparent Giving.
Please leave a comment with tips you have on writing a good solicitation or thank you letter. A key competent to a good solicitation letter is a prompt follow up call. Make sure that you have already set aside time in a week or so to follow up with the individuals/businesses that you are soliciting.
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