Who should sign your next direct mail letter?

publication date: Oct 4, 2012
author/source: Heather Brown
As fundraisers, we know that emotions trigger a donor to take action. So it's important that you think about choosing the right signatory for your direct mail appeal.  Heather Brown photoA great story can help your organization connect with your donors' hearts.  The wrong signatory can result in an uninspiring letter and a missed opportunity to connect with your direct mail audience.   

Some of the best fundraising letters are those that get at the heart of a story and help donors to feel the emotions you're writing about.  Though you may have a roster of local celebrities or persons of influence who believe in your mission and vision, determining the right person to sign your next fundraising letter may not be that simple. 

Finding the right person 

The key to creating a compelling fundraising appeal is to identify a great story, or a great storyteller, and deliver the message in a warm, conversational tone.   Here are a few suggestions to help you identify your next signatory (note that not all need apply). Look for someone who
  • Is a great storyteller;
  • Has personal ties to your organization and is passionate about the work you do; 
  • Has benefitted from your organization's work and is comfortable sharing that experience with others;
  • Is knowledgeable about your organization and can clearly articulate the story on behalf of someone who has benefitted from your organization; 
  • Is a friend or family member of a program recipient (like a spouse, parent, or adult child of a hospital patient). 
For more "institutional" pieces, the right voice will be one of authority, so an individual in a leadership position will be a better fit.   For these appeals you may want to consider
  • A trusted member of your organization or its Board of Directors;
  • A senior staff member or volunteer who is accountable to donors and other stakeholders.
Bonus tips 

Here are a few bonus tips that can help identify a "person of interest." Find someone who is
  • Expert in their field and can clearly articulate the issue and solution;
  • Highly regarded in the community and is likely to resonate with a direct mail audience;
  • A member of the community in which your organization operates and serves, and can articulate your organization's mission and values.
In all cases, you'll want to ensure that the person who signs the letter is comfortable with asking folks to make a donation to support your organization's good work. 

After more than 10 years in the nonprofit sector helping to raise money for various worthy charities, Heather Brown decided to join the Good Works team and put her experience to work to help Good Works' clients reach their fundraising goals. She's passionate about direct mail and legacy marketing and strives to help her clients make a positive impact on the community. 

Contact Heather at heather@goodworksco.ca; follow her on Twitter, @Heather_Brown2

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