by Ronald J. Meshanko, President, ERC
ERC Newsbriefs Excerpt, June 28, 1996

ERC review appeal letters for a vast array of nonprofits, from colleges to housing projects, from elderly projects to youth programs. The following tips are based on my experience in assisting clients to write winning solicitation letters.

  1. Always include a P.S.! The postscript should reiterate the ask and tell the reader how to send a gift (i.e., please enclose your tax-deductible gift in the return envelope).

  2. Use the words "you" and "your" over and over again. After writing the first draft, circle these words with a red marker. Your letter should be full of red circles. Be sure to use a second person pronoun in the first paragraph to draw the person into the letter.

  3. Make a direct ask with suggested gift amounts that reads like this: "Will yuu please open your heart today and make a gift of $250, $200, $150, $100, $75, or more? Whatever you give, you will be helping...." Always place the largest suggested gift size first.

  4. Write the letter with your grandparents in mind. Be informal, simple, clear, and concise. Use contractions. Write for a sixth grade reading level.

  5. Always use large script (at least 12 point), double-spacing, and large margins on all four sides of the page.
If you would like ERC to review your appeal letters, please call (202) 328-9517.

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