Appeal Letters in Troubled Times

Dear Kim:

We are preparing to kick off our annual fall campaign, first targeting larger donors with personal solicitations, to be followed by a mailed appeal to the rest of our 650 members. We have had a very successful year-to-date in spite of the economic downturn, and have a lot of accomplishments to be proud of and great plans for the future.

I am going to proceed with our campaign, but am looking for advice on our message. Do we need to acknowledge the economic situation?  Do we assume people know about it, and just focus on our good news?  I don’t want our appeal to seem like we didn’t mention the elephant in the room, but I also feel like everyone is “acknowledging” the crisis and saying the same thing and it’s boring.

~What News is Fit to Print?

Dear Fit:

I would use the economic reality as the backdrop for your good news:

“All of us are worried and troubled by the economic meltdown of the last two months.  Many people have lost or will lose their jobs, anyone with savings probably now has less and we all wonder what is going to happen.  But here at Good Group, we are so fortunate to be able to announce GOOD NEWS.  We have accomplished several very important things:


And we have done it during this time, in spite of all that is going on.  And we have done it in large part because of donors like you!!”

Then go on to invite more donations and talk about your future plans.   Most organizations will not really know how these last two months have affected their donors until sometime next year.  Most people will give away the same amount of money between now and the end of the year that they would have if the market hadn’t fallen, and some (bless their hearts) will give more.  Some will give less because they don’t have as much or they are frightened.  Overall your organization, with its excellent track record, will be fine.

Good luck!

~Kim Klein