I recently received two very different year-end letters from charities I support.
The first letter was one side of one page. Lots of white space and a big font. In a quick scan, it was clear:
- who was writing
- what this charity did – their logo and mission statement were prominent
- why they were writing – asking for a year-end gift.
The main story was one paragraph. It told about kids enjoying a new experience, one that most kids would take for granted, thanks to the generosity of a donor.
The second letter was actually part of a package containing a card, a calendar and two double-sided letters. A quick scan told me that:
- this charity had too much to say
- I should consider getting stronger reading glasses.
What wasn’t clear was what type of response they wanted, if any.
I’ll confess I haven’t read the second package fully. I suspect the charity kept decreasing the margins and font size until all the content fit. Oh dear!
There was a small donations box buried at the bottom of one page. I am cringing at the use of in-house acronyms and concerned that stories of the staff member’s own personal development are more prominent that the stories of the people they connect with. Good intentions do not make a good letter…
And so, dear hard-working charity staff, please ask someone with fresh eyes to do a quick scan of your letter before it goes out. Your purpose should be as clear as the front page of a newspaper or the cover of a magazine. Make it easy for the donor to understand what their gift will do.