I have seen the ideal appeal letter this season. I haven’t yet seen the ideal thank-you letter. It went out today. Did you send it?
If you wrote the ideal thank-you letter, you:
- Called me by name.
- Confirmed how much I gave you.
- Told me how my gift would make a difference.
- Illustrated my impact with a story. (Not the one you told me to persuade me to give. Another story. You have more than one, right?)
- Included a photo or image to make my impact real.
- Told me about how else I can help: by volunteering, or liking you on Facebook, or spreading the word to my friends…or, yes, making another donation.
- Signed it by hand, and wrote something just for me.
Most important: it’s the ideal thank-you letter because it went out today.
The sooner you acknowledge my gift, the more likely I am to remember it, and give again. Within 24 hours of your receiving my check is ideal. Within a week is acceptable. But no matter how long it’s been, don’t put it off any longer. Send that thank-you letter today.
You get them by email. You see them as comments on your blog. You read them through the Contact Us section of your website. And they want you to worry.
They’re the SEO fearmongers.
My wife Rona Fischman opened an email that began politely, “I thought you might like to know some of the reasons why you are not getting enough search engine & social media traffic on your website.” It went on–mostly in bold blue font that screamed from the page–to list the same useless advice that she and I have both seen from search engine optimizers over and over again.
Why useless? Because it’s generic. The fearmongers don’t know you and they don’t know your audience. Here are three reasons not to worry about SEO:
- You might not need to be found. If you’re a nonprofit, these days you may already be serving more clients than you can handle! If you’re a referral-based business, random searches are the equivalent of cold calls. They’re low-percentage sources. Why attract people who may never do business with you when you can spend the time and money attracting people who already want your services?
- Social media may do better for you than search. If you do need to be found, wouldn’t you rather be found in good company? People are not just Googling “realtor” (for instance) and calling the first on the list. Instead, they’re asking their friends to recommend someone. Facebook or Yelp may be more important to you than Google or Bing.
- What do they find when they get there? Improving the content on your website may get you better results for less money than increasing the number of people who ever happen to take a look at it. Spend your resources on content creation and content marketing.
You shouldn’t worry about SEO–but paying just a little bit of attention to it might be worth your while. Here’s a piece I wrote about “How To Get Found: SEO and the Small Nonprofit.” It includes ten tips on getting more eyeballs to your site. But most of them are not SEO.
Don’t worry, be effective!
Thanksgiving weekend kicks off the annual scramble for donations in the U.S. Your mailbox filled up with appeal letters from groups you support (and some you don’t). But did any of them look like this?
- Calling her by name. (I’m amazed how many groups still use the salutation “Dear Friend.”)
- Creating visual appeal. The photo catches the eye.
- Using a real story. It’s not just a photo: it’s a person, looking you in the eye, telling his story.
- Adding a hand-written note. It’s actually on an orange sticky note, and the content is personalized to Rona.
- Directing her clearly how to give.
All of these elements make the letter vivid, attractive, and appealing. But the most important thing that Next Step did was starting the letter with “You.”
Next Step understands that donors will give if they feel that their donation is doing the good work. As Seth Godin recently wrote, the donor is the hero of the story. That’s why they give.
Now, your letter doesn’t literally have to start with “You.” It would be boring if every letter did! But when you wrote your organization’s annual appeal letter, did you start with the donor? Did you do everything you could do to make them feel the letter was personally written for them? And did you place the donor at the center of the story?