After Valentine’s Day, I was reading an article called “How do I love thee… Crafting the perfect love letter“.
It was a great step by step on how to write your sweetie the perfect love letter. As I read through it, it reminded me of our approach to writing (and fundraising in general).
Step 1: Think about it
A letter to your donor should be contemplated and dwelled on. By reading it, it should move them through distance and time, they should feel moved. Your letter isn’t something on your checklist or something that should be fired off after 5 minutes of thought. Picture your beloved (donor). How can you make the hairs on their neck stand or set their heart a flutter?
Step 2: Don’t be intimidated
This isn’t Shakespeare or Bukowski. This is a personal communication from one human to another. Like leaving a voice mail for a dear friend, don’t over think it or fret over not saying the right thing. “Just say the true thing.” – Todd Boss, Poet.
Step 3: Get personal
Your letter should sound like it was written by a human to another human. It should sound conversational. (Read it out loud – the places you stumble need some work.) Tell a personal story that is relevant to your beloved (donor) and your mission. What about them? Do they love cats more than dogs? Did they give $100 last spring? If you were asking your gran for some help to send the kids to camp – how would you ask her?
Step 4: Be specific
Focus on a thing. If I emailed my dad with the subject line: “I need a car!” and in my email I not only repeated that I needed a car, but told him how a car would make a difference to my life and how he could be a massive part of that difference. His very action of helping me buy a car would make me (and him!) a better person! This would be a better world, if he could spare, even $100, to help me with this very important endeavour… Signed, with love, his son… You can guarantee by the time he wipes the tears from his eyes, he knows exactly what I need from him. Focus on a thing. One. (Same goes for the reply device by the way.)
Step 5: Be authentic
Leave the four syllable words for your bloated essay in the Medical Journal of Science. Write like you talk. Love letters to your beloved (donor) can reflect the times and journey’s you’ve been on together. They can sound like you. Forget the organizational jargon and politics. Be real, (wo)man.
Step 6: Bare your soul
I know. Reading those words scares the H – E – double hockey sticks out of you right? But you can be vulnerable or passionate! Let it all hang out! Your beloved (donor) WANTS to help! Tell them what you need, how they can make a difference and then get out of the way! But never be afraid to rage, be sad or upset, or full of joy… Bare your soul, be naked emotionally.
Step 7: Handwrite it
I know, you’re all like… what? Handwrite it? When was the last time you hand wrote anything aside from signing the bill in a restaurant? You can write your donors name on the outer envelope, you can sign the letter with your organizational fountain pen, you can make notes in the column in the letter highlighting some particular points, you can have your handwriting made into a font and “write” your whole letter or… and you may want to sit down… you may want to hand write the whole thing. Everything. You can do as little or as much as you like, but write something!
Step 8: Be creative
Don’t “do that thing” you did last time. Can you imagine if you kissed your beloved (donor) only once every three months, same time, same place, same way? Pppffffttt. Get creative! Try different envelopes, writing in different moods, switch up the font and letterhead, talk about different things that are relevant to your donor… Put forth your best effort every… single… time…
Don’t stop here! Think about your donor love story. If a new donor gives to you today, right now, do you know how in the next two to five years you will show them love day after day?
How do I love thee… let me count the ways… <3 <3 <3 Thanks for reading.