Tom Ahern is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub. This article was originally published on his Ahern Donor Communications blog. Tom is considered a top authority on how to increase revenue through donor communications around the world.
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Proposed: I am NOT writing direct mail to tell “a” story. Or “our story.” I’m writing to extend the reader’s story. To make that reader a living character in an act of doing good. To lend purpose, as the late neurologist and Nazi camp survivor, Viktor Frankl, implored.

I talk to myself when I write. I jot notes on a yellow pads, ‘me telling me’ stuff.

In the appeal I’m writing today, the tone will be immediately set by the doctor’s name appearing at the top of the page.

Name Name, MD

And by the unusual size of the letterhead sheet. For this special, Memorial Day appeal we’re using an executive-size sheet. It’s slightly smaller than standard office stationery. More personal. A bit exclusive. So…

Name Name, MD

In 24 pt. type centered. And just below that, on the right, there’s a date, in 12 pt. type. At that size the date will properly read as a minor, background element.

And then you break the silence.

A voice begins speaking. Says something short, per Sugarman. Nothing overwhelming. In 14 pt. type. If you’re not a sadist, you use BIGGER TYPE for 60+-year-old eyes, the eyes upholstered inside the heads of most American donors.

Dear [Salutation Informal],

You’ve heard it before.

But I wanted to tell you myself, as we move toward this upcoming Memorial Day …

Thank You for your faith and belief in hospice.

This is a renewal letter. So the letter quickly acknowledges the targeted recipient’s past contribution in a values-based way, e.g., “…your faith and belief in hospice.”

For the full article, visit Ahern Donor Communications >>