Why do we write letters to donors?

If you’re over a certain age, you may remember when everyone wrote letters all the time. Every day, the mailbox contained a handful of letters from friends and family.

Times have changed. You probably haven’t received a personal letter from a real person in a while. You’re a lot more likely to get a letter from a lawyer or someone else you’d rather not hear from.

The personal letter has all but died out — killed by email and other quicker, more convenient communication channels.

But the letter is still the powerhouse of fundraising. It lives on like a prehistoric throwback, because it still works.

It’s strange, but a letter that is:


  • On letterhead
  • Starts with a salutation
  • Has a signature
  • Has a P.S.

Try and replace the letter with some cool designed piece that’s easier to read, rich with photography, branded to the hilt — it’s unlikely to work.

That’s because most donors grew up on letters. Unlike you or me, a letter in the mailbox for them is still a sign of personal contact. Something joyful.

Depart from the conventions of the letter at your own peril!

It’s possible that when you and I are elderly and people our age are the majority of donors the letter won’t have the power it has now.

But until that day, stick with a letter.


Comments

4 responses to “Why do we write letters to donors?”

  1. Thanks for the post Jeff. Definitely a good point. I’ll add that I’m young enough that I didn’t really grow up on letters, but they still resonate with me. They are different and remarkable. They show someone took the time to sit down, think of what to say, and put in the necessary thought (even if it’s only a moment) to get the message right.
    If it’s customized and personal, it stands out in my eyes. And it definitely has a place not only in fundraising, but in showing appreciation in general.

  2. Thanks for the post Jeff. Definitely a good point. I’ll add that I’m young enough that I didn’t really grow up on letters, but they still resonate with me. They are different and remarkable. They show someone took the time to sit down, think of what to say, and put in the necessary thought (even if it’s only a moment) to get the message right.
    If it’s customized and personal, it stands out in my eyes. And it definitely has a place not only in fundraising, but in showing appreciation in general.

  3. Wrote a thank you note to an under 30 age supporter – he said it was such a nice surprise to get a printed letter because he never gets letters anymore. Even though he grew up with no letters, he will remember us sending him one!

  4. Wrote a thank you note to an under 30 age supporter – he said it was such a nice surprise to get a printed letter because he never gets letters anymore. Even though he grew up with no letters, he will remember us sending him one!

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog