Letters from College (Send More Money)

Back in the pre-internet days of the 80’s, I was a freshman in college.  I went to an out of state school in Ohio and left my parents back in Northern Illinois.  Long distance telephone calls were expensive and postage stamps were not, so I wrote letters to my folks on a fairly regular basis.  I would write about the wonders of being a college student off on my own for the first time and report how I was doing with my classes.  When I got my mail a few days later, I would find a reply with news from home and an occasional newspaper clipping about a family member, a friend or acquaintance, and even better, the occasional check.  As the semester moved on, the letters I sent were less frequent.  I would complain about a class or professor, talk about a short term relationship that soured, and usually ended with the line, “Send more money”.  The replies I got in return were also less frequent, and the checks, if they came at all, were smaller.

I have noticed a similar trend when receiving correspondences from organizations that I have supported in the past.  Sometimes, I would get a personalized thank you note from the organization’s leader, and then start receiving a monthly newsletter telling me what the organization was doing to make the community better by enriching the lives of its clientele.  They usually ended each letter thanking me for my continued support.  When I was flush and had money to spare, I would often send in another donation because I knew that the group was doing something positive with my gift, and they let me know I was appreciated.

In other cases after making a contribution to an organization, I would receive an impersonal acknowledgement of my gift, and then I would end up on their mailing list.  What I got from the latter groups were usually sporadic newsletters with tales of woe about all the suffering people, and the organization having financial issues because their funding from one source or another had been cut.  They might have to decrease services and lay people off.  Basically, their letters ended with the line, “Send more money”.  Those letters usually did not receive a reply.

If you want your supporters to continue to read the letters and emails you send them, keep them positive and tell them of the success you have had using their contributions for your cause.  Let them know how your organization is using their gifts to make the lives of your constituents better, and share your goals of helping more people.  Thank your donors every time you contact them.  Ask them for ideas that might help your organization do a better job, and create a dialogue.  Engage them.

Do not tell them about your tales of woe, and avoid complaints about those who are no longer supporting you.  People do not want to read about such things in your letters or emails.  If that is the tone of your correspondence, people will stop opening the envelopes or emails, and the number of your supporters will dwindle.  And by all means, do not end every letter with “Send more money”.

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About greatergoodfundraising

Richard Freedlund has been active in the nonprofit sector in a number of ways, both professionally and as a volunteer. He is the founder of Greater Good Fundraising, a business that helps schools and organizations raise money for their programs while accomplishing something positive for the community. After living in Oregon for 27 years, he has returned to his hometown of Rockford, Illinois and hopes to make his mark on the nonprofit sector there. He is the father of a talented jazz musician and the son of philanthropic parents that continue to support multiple causes. To contact Richard for consulting, fundraising, or speaking opportunities, email greatergoodfundraising@gmail.com or reach him on Twitter.com @ggfundraise
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