The title of today's post is a word for word record of what went through my mind on Saturday morning, when I opened and read a letter I'd received from a charity I support. They were acknowledging a change of bank details for my regular gift and they did it in a remarkable way.
The letter said...
Thank you very much for allowing us to set up your direct debit via the electronic system we operate with all banks – it not only allows us to deal with your claim more promptly but also reduces paperwork.
My what? My claim? It took me
a few moments to realise that they were referring to the money I donate to them
each month. My 'gift', 'donation' or 'direct debit payment'. Not my
Many charities have a suite of ‘admin letters’ set up to deal with common requests or financial house-keeping. These are usually dispatched by a supporter services or care team, but if you're a fundraiser, you should take a look at them. Because, at best, an 'admin letter' is a missed opportunity and, at worst, it can damage the relationship you've worked so hard to form with your supporter. In the case above, it could even lead to someone being so thoroughly confused that they call you – meaning you spend twice as long dealing with a simple transaction.Once you’ve got your hands on them, here are a few simple, low-cost things you could do to improve those letters.
· Make sure each one includes a proper thank you.
· Write it so it sounds like it comes from a person - a nice one - not a machine. If you’re short of inspiration, turn to p267 of Mal Warwick’s book ‘How to Write Successful Fundraising Letters’. You’ll find 54 ways to start a letter in a way that makes someone want to read it and I’m sure you’ll be able to add many more.
· Have the letter signed in blue (or by a real live person in blue ink if numbers allow).
· Make sure the signatory has a relevant job title and a phone number and email for contact in the future.
· There's no reason to send out something boring. Refresh the letters regularly so they include a current piece of news. How about sharing a recent achievement?
· Avoid a blank piece of paper. Preprint the back of the letter with a news update, copies of relevant press cuttings or some key facts about the organization which show the supporter evidence of success. If you click here, you’ll see a lovely example of how SPANA prove that they’ll go to the moon and back for working animals and the families which own them.
· Take the opportunity to ask the supporter to take another action for you (one which won’t cost them anything). Signing up to your latest campaign, wearing a badge or putting up a window sticker will increase their engagement with your cause.
· Include a reply form and a BRE. Find out more about the supporter and offer them choice as to how they want you to communicate with them in the future.