Yesterday morning a fundraising letter fell lightly through my post-box complete with a dusting of rapidly-melting snow. I opened the letter and waited for the first paragraph which would tell me what the problem was and how I could help. After reading that first paragraph, I was a little shocked….
…it described a truly dreadful situation. Within two paragraphs, I had lost hope. Nothing I could do would ever fix this, I thought. I hoped that there was something small I could do to alleviate the suffering of just one person. But they never told me what that was. In the end it was like reading yet another depressing news story.
If you’re working on campaigns for a small or medium sized charity, make sure that what you are asking your donors for is possible. The big charities have been doing it brilliantly for years. They ask you for a little help to make a big difference. I’m showing my age now but the famous tag line of an Irish charity in the eighties summed it up best. ‘Give a little, it will help a lot’ it said. But it didn’t just say it – it consoled you and reassured you that even though you hadn’t much to give, it would help someone in real need. In other words, just one person helping another person.
For small and medium sized charities, here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re working on your next campaign.
Make your problem solvable
- Equate each donation to one specific small function– one person cannot solve a famine but they can give a few euros so that one child has something to eat for a week.
- Picture the problem – describe the place and not just the problem. People want to visualise where their money is going and what impact it’s having.
- Be careful with numbers – speaking in millions and thousands can make the situation sound almost impossible.
If you send me a fundraising letter and want me to help, you need to tell me what to do – and tell me quickly. The problem I was presented with yesterday morning could not be solved by the finest minds of our generation. Yet, they were asking me …me(!?)…to solve it.
Fundraising is not easy. And you need to make sure you are doing yourself and your organisation justice. Make it easy for people to give you the help you need. If you’re having poor results with your direct mail, feel free to get in touch with me, an experienced fundraising copywriter for a second opinion.