Don’t Fear a Long Letter
How long should your fundraising letter be?
Don’t be afraid of sending that multi-page direct-mail fundraising letter, asserts fundraising expert and consultant, Mal Warwick, in his revised and updated Revolution in the Mailbox: Your Guide to Successful Direct-Mail Fundraising.
The best length for your appeal is the one that allows you to tell a full and effective story, according to Warwick, author of 16 books on fundraising. His own testing shows that successful fundraising letters should accomplish five goals:
- Establish a one-on-one rapport between the writer and the prospect.
- Present the appeal as an offer to participate in the organization.
- Make a compelling case for that offer.
- Establish urgency.
- Ask for a specific donation.
“The reason most direct-mail letters include these five ingredients is that testing proves fundraising appeals usually work better if they do,” writes Warwick. “And that, in turn, is why they’re typically long; it’s often hard to tell enough of the story in just one or two pages.”
Bear in mind as well, Warwick advises, that the typical direct-mail donor “is a well-educated, church-going woman in her 60s,” who has both the time and inclination to read longer communications. While an eight-page letter may seem excessive to you, it’s how your prospects respond to it that really matters.