The Importance of Personalization in Fundraising Letters

Published on 28 Jan 2021 by Auctria

A nonprofit organization relies most heavily on its supporters in order to continue pursuing its mission and outreach. As such, engaging these individuals is truly one of the most crucial portions of fundraising letters and direct mail.

That being said, one of the easiest ways to garner supporters’ attention is by personalizing the direct mail they receive. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of personalizing your fundraising letters to peak your donor’s attention.
Before we get to building your engagement strategy, we first need to lay some groundwork about what it means to truly engage your donors. When a supporter is engaged in your nonprofit, they have an overall positive feeling toward your organization and want to see you thrive.

Now that we understand how to tell if your supporters are engaged, let’s dive into how we can improve your chances for supporter engagement and interaction through your fundraising efforts. For example, personalizing your fundraising letters can offer the following key benefits:

1. Get your fundraising letter read

The first step to engaging supporters is to get them to open your envelopes and read your fundraising letters in the first place. We already know that direct mail is the single greatest source of donations for nonprofits, but there are a few key ways in which you can optimize your marketing efforts and gain a larger conversion rate when reaching out to your supporters.

The answer? Personalization, personalization, and personalization. This can’t be stressed enough, as one of the most important ways to spark your supporters’ interest is by giving them letters they may be interested in. One way to do this is by segmenting your donor data as much as possible to specify the type of mail you are sending to each recipient. In doing this, you can target individuals based on their specific interests, rather than generalizing attention grabbers in your letters.

The next step to getting your letter read is by calling your supporters to action. In doing this, you encourage your reader to do things like spread the word about your fundraiser or participate in campaigns that directly affect your nonprofit’s mission. When your members spread awareness about your organization, not only does it give your supporters a purpose, but it also gives you free word-of-mouth marketing and allows you to maximize your invested efforts in your existing campaigns.

2. Improve the donor experience

Another reason to emphasize personalization in fundraising is that it significantly improves the donor experience. If you’re looking to do so, here are two actionable steps you can take:

  • Carefully craft your fundraising letters. The first thing you want to improve about your donor’s experience is the fundraising letters themselves. Your fundraising letters should be welcoming and enjoyable to read. In doing this, you make the experience of reading your letter more memorable and increase the likelihood of engagement and conversion. Furthermore, you may even increase the donor’s generosity if you can connect with them on a stronger and more personal level.
  • Invest in donor management software. The second thing you can do to improve upon your donor’s overall experience is by utilizing a nonprofit CRM. A nonprofit CRM, or constituent relationship management system, will allow you to effectively personalize aspects of your letters. For example, when using a CRM, you can optimize things like donor profiles, communication skills, and fundraising data. Then, you can include tidbits of information about the recipient sprinkled throughout your letters: including their preferred name, engagement history, and more. This strategy allows your nonprofit to capitalize heaps of unused data which can greatly improve your donor’s experience overall.
    Your fundraising letters should be all about the donor. That means that at every step of the way, you should be sure to look at your letters from the recipients’ point of view.

3. Increase the likelihood of conversion

After your donor has opened your letter and connected with your mission, now comes the challenging part: securing a donation. With these simple steps, you can improve your supporter conversion rate immensely.

The most important part of securing the donation is the ask. First, you must establish that you, the organization, are asking for donations to support your mission. That being said, make sure you focus on the donor, not the cause. Though you want to communicate the action your organization is taking, be sure to frame it as if the donor is the real hero of the story thanks to their contributions. In doing this, you make the supporter feel as if they are the ones making your organization’s goal a reality—and they are!

The next step is to make the actual giving part as easy as possible. For example, you always want to include a pre-addressed return envelope with any fundraising letters you send. However, if you know that a particular recipient prefers to make their donations online, be sure to include the URL for your handy online donation page so they can quickly and easily make their donation.

  1. Build long-term relationships
    Now that you have mastered conversion, the next step is retention. When your organization is trying to raise donations, a good rule of thumb is to shoot for the second donation. If a donor gives a second time, you have truly captured them as a repeat donor.

Another way to increase retention is by making recurring gift opportunities easily accessible. In doing this, you are likely increasing your chances of getting recurring donors on board, which will help increase revenue collected and donor retention.

Then, it’s important to continue solidifying your repeat donor by building a long-term relationship with them. You have worked so hard to garner their attention and support, and you have now finally secured it.

Towards the end of a particular campaign, make sure to thank your donors for all their gifts and support. Highlight how much it helped your organization, perhaps with a constituent story illustrating where their money went. When it’s time to ask for donations again, there are a few things you can do to maintain all that hard work you had put into the previous fundraiser:

  • Re-spark your member’s interest with a fresh fundraising campaign. In doing this, you get the chance to rebuild your engagement levels with supporters and even encourage them to spread the word among their own networks.
  • Make sure that your donation tools are up to date. After all, the best fundraising letters won’t make much of a difference if your recipients can’t figure out how to make their donation once they’ve decided to give.
  • Update your donor and prospect research. Not only might their interests have shifted, but they may also have new contact information you’ll need to secure. By doing this, you ensure that you have the ability to capture their interest when fine-tuning a campaign for them, and making sure your fundraising letters end up with the intended recipients.

Nonprofit fundraising professionals know that securing repeat donors is more cost-effective than continuously seeking new, one-time donations. The best way to do this? Emphasize the importance of donor relationships with easy steps like these.

All in all, personalization is an immensely important tool when utilizing fundraising letters in your marketing campaigns. When you personalize your letters effectively, you get to reap benefits such as getting your letter read, improving the donor experience, increasing conversion rates, and building long-term relationships with supporters. In doing this, you will be able to achieve a successful direct mail campaign. Good luck!

Special thanks to Grant Cobb for sharing this expert advice. Grant is a fundraising specialist with over 6 years of experience in the nonprofit space. Currently the head of marketing and analytics at GivingMail, he is a huge proponent of data-driven decision making and the push to bring high-level analytics and fundraising to all.