by Ronald J. Meshanko, President, ERC
ERC Newsbriefs Excerpt, November 29, 1996

When writing your holiday appeal letter, remember to make it as personable as possible. Write it as if you were sending it to your grandmother. It should be full of "you" and "our" and "we". Ideally, the first paragraph should contain the pronouns you or your.

If your agency is not related to a particular faith perspective, your holiday appeal letter should be sensitive to persons of all faith traditions. If your agency is related to one faith tradition, but you have donors from various traditions or denominations, try to be sensitive to all of them without disregarding your own tradition. You may need to have different letters for Christian (Christmas), Jewish (Hanukkah), and African American (Kwanza) donors.

In your letter, don't forget the following basic ingredients of a successful appeal letter:

  1. Interesting lead story, case history, or news.

  2. Direct ask for a financial gift using gift ranges (i.e., $500, $250, $100, $50 or more)

  3. Recognition of past support

  4. Post-Script (P.S.)
Have someone outside your agency read your appeal letter, anyone who will bring an outsider's point of view. Don't forget to make your letter easy to read, write with a warm and personable voice, and use double spacing. Finally, don't forget to wish your donors a happy holiday season (or Blessed Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Happy Kwanza)!

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