Raising money through the mail can be an extremely effective way to generate donations for your campaign. Even though online and e-mail fundraising seems “sexier,” political direct mail is still effective, resulting in millions of dollars in donations to candidates and political committees every year.
Here are 5 ways your campaign can raise more money by writing better political fundraising letters:
#1 – Write for Readers and Scanners
Did you know that most people who get your fundraising letter will only open it and look at it for 10-20 seconds as they are putting it into the trash can? You have just a few seconds to make sure that the person looking at your letter gets the gist of your message and is intrigued enough to keep reading.
Every fundraising letter you send out should be designed with this fact in mind. You want your letters to appeal to both those who read the entire letter as well as those who only scan it briefly.
You can appeal to scanners by including lots of headings and sub-headings, bullet-point lists, bolded and italicized words, and a P.S. that summarizes the letter in just a few lines. Studies show that these are the items people look at while they are scanning your letter. Make sure you use these in your letter to get your message across quickly and compellingly.
#2 – Include Lots of White Space
Have you ever gotten a letter that was just a wall of text? No one wants to read a letter that looks hard to read. Letters that are crammed full of text (single spaced, black and white, margin to margin) look difficult and boring to read. If your letter looks like that, no one will read it – not even your most ardent supporters.
Your goal as a political fundraiser is to make your letters look easy to read. The best way to do this is to include lots of white space in your letter – lots of blank areas without any writing. You can do this by leaving a space in between paragraphs, by using lists and bullet points, by including pull quotes and by not trying to fit as much as possible into every single page of your letter.
The easier your letter looks to read, the more people will actually read it.
#3 – Write Person to Person
Lots of first time candidates make the mistake of writing letters “from the campaign.” They say things like:
Here at the XYZ for Mayor Campaign, our organization is working hard to elect Mr. XYZ this November. Our campaign needs your support.
People don’t want to read a letter from a faceless “organization.” That’s like getting a bill from a company… you don’t want to read it, you just want to process it and throw it away. People like to get letters from people.
When writing your political fundraising letters, write as a person having a conversation with another person. The letter should almost always be from one person, not a committee… the writer should talk in the first person, and the letter should be signed with a name, not by “the campaign.”
#4 – Make a Direct Ask
It’s a basic rule of political fundraising: people don’t give unless they are asked. If you want someone to make a donation to your campaign or committee, you need to ask them to do so.
Wishy-washy asks don’t get results. Be direct!
This holds true in person, on the phone, and in your fundraising letters. Don’t send a fundraising letter that ends with a wishy-washy ask like, “Will you support our campaign?” or even worse, “Please support our campaign by using the enclosed envelope.”
If you want to write really effective fundraising letters, you need to ask people to give money by using a direct question: “Will you give $100, $250, $500 or whatever you can afford to help Samantha Rodgers win this election?”
There’s a reason so many candidates and committees use an ask like this. It’s because it works. When you tell people you “hope they will give,” they yawn. When you ask people to give as much as they can – right now – they want to be able to say “yes!”
#5 – Make it Easy to Give
I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten a political fundraising letter but wasn’t quite sure how to donate. You would think that campaigns and committees would want people to know how to give, but sometimes they don’t include an envelope, don’t include a reply card, and bury a website address to make a donation deep within the text of their letter.
Don’t make this mistake. Be sure to make it as easy to give as possible. Include a pre-addressed return envelope with your letter (pre-paying postage isn’t necessary), tell people who to make the check out to and where to send it, and include ways for them to give via credit card and online. The easier you make it to give, the more people will do so.