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.

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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: June 6, 2007

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