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January 19, 2015

A missive that missed

Well-chosen words on a page – that’s all there is to a good solicitation letter, right?
 
Not exactly. The collective aesthetic of those words – how the language mass appears on the page – has a lot to do with whether the prospective donor will even begin to read your letter.
 
Here’s one we received recently from a local charity (intentionally blurred). From the first glance, the letter seems like a time commitment. The sentences and paragraphs form a tall wall to climb. Big blocks, narrow margins, no visual rest.
 

 
This may not seem like a big deal – come on, it’s a good cause, right?
 
But the look of a letter matters.

Consider the context of that letter being reviewed. It’s in a stack of the day’s mail. Processing that stack is a task of opening, glancing, sorting — a task often performed in a half-attentive state, with the TV on or a conversation taking place.
 
In such a context, capturing attention is critical. And a sea of copy makes a letter too easy to skip.
 
When developing your fundraising correspondence, keep in mind that a letter is more than language. It’s an exercise in design, too. 


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