When writing or telling your story, it is important to remember what makes a story captivating: the dramatic arc. This means that the story has an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement. Although it is important to keep the information relevant, don’t be afraid to delve into the details so you can discuss them with your donors.
Influence and Persuasion
Here are a few factors that can help influence and persuade your donors, according to psychologist Robert Cialdini.
- Reciprocity: People often give because they feel indebted in some way—for example, because they have received care from your organization.
- Consensus/social proof: People tend to look to others to see what to do, which is why testimonials can be very important.
- Authority: People also look to authority figures see what to do. That is why many organizations are giving their head officers the title of CEO, for example, since it’s a title that people are more likely to respond to.
Tips to Improve Your Mailings
The more knowledge we have about how our donors make decisions, the better off we are. This extends to the way we write.
For maximum readability and comprehension, write at the level of a seventh grader. Some organizations reject this notion, because they believe their audience to be more educated. However, even President Obama spoke at an eighth-grade level when making speeches so everyone was sure to understand the information.
Use influential words, including: you, value, do, imagine, see, show, hear, and tackle. Avoid using negative trigger words like problem; talk about opportunities instead.
Use the donor’s first name. There always is a higher response rate when people feel like you are speaking directly to them.
Why, Not How
Focus on explaining to donors why it is important to donate to your cause, not how to do it.
"Thank You" Is a Powerful Motivator
If you write thank you anywhere in the letter, people are more likely to respond and donate.