A 2-step fundraising letter audit

Kids forming the words "thank you"With Thanksgiving sixteen days away here in the USA, it's a great time to do a quick 2-step gratitude check.

Pull out your most recent fundraising letter. (You sent one in September, right?) Or your next one. (You have one queued up for late November/early December, right?)

  1. With a green Sharpie circle all the times you use words like "thanks" and "you."
  2. And with a red Sharpie circle all the times you use words like "we," "us," and "ours."

If the green is more prominent than the red, you're writing your fundraising letters correctly. Tests done by fundraising writing experts like Tom Ahern and Jeff Brooks shows the green words and phrases lead to more "green" - more donations.

But if the red is more prevalent, you may be heading for fiscal hardship. Donors are increasingly not interested in your charity. Donors are interested in learning what difference their gift is making in the lives of those you serve.

So tell them.

As we move into the last few weeks of the calendar year, it's easy to get lost focusing on our "need" and forget about the donors that brought us where we are. Don't let that happen to you. Let your donors know that you know that without them, your nonprofit wouldn't have any impact.

Tell them even if you don't feel it

Don't just do this when you feel flush with cash. Do this even if things look financially tight; even if the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy is wrecking your fundraising goals; even if you're in dire straits. One of the best things we get to do as fundraisers is to express gratitude to people who have invested time and money in our organization.

This week, in the midst of all the year end deadlines, challenge yourself to write one thank you note a day. And make it handwritten. It doesn't have to be long to be effective. But don't let the sun go down without your saying "thank you" to at least one donor.

Try gratitude for a week

Do this for a week and then let us know how you feel afterwards. And how your fundraising goals are going. You can use the comments right here. I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised!

About Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the author of Ask Without Fear!, director of The Nonprofit Academy, and founder of FundraisingCoach.com. A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marc’s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family!

Follow him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.

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