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A tale of two letters: Simplify your message!

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.

 

 

 

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