Make Your Fundraising Letters Personal With The Right Pronouns

Alan Sharpe

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How do you take a mass-mailing fundraising letter and make it sound personal? By using the right pronouns, ones that nurture the bond that you have with your donors.

The mistake to avoid is referring to your organization as a faceless organization, such as “Spencer College wants you to . . . ” or “Mt. Sinai Hospital has a new . . . ” Letters written in that style sound institutional and impersonal. Here is an example of what I mean, taken from the book Direct Mail Fundraising Letters That Work, by Robert L. Torre and Mary Anne Bendixen:

IMPERSONAL: Winthrop-University Hospital provides the community with the best health care.

PERSONAL: When you and your loved ones need medical attention, Winthrop-University Hospital is ready to serve you.

The first example refers to “the community, ” which is impersonal. The second example mentions “you, ” “your” and “you, ” establishing a personal connection with the donor.

Another way to sound personal is to identify with the donor’s world or to have the donor identify with yours. Instead of saying “we want our supporters to write to their member of parliament about the Federal Gun Registry, ” you could say, “I share your concerns about the Federal Gun Registry. That’s why I want you to join us in writing to your member of parliament. ”

To encourage your donors to identify with your world, use pronouns that communicate commonality. For example, you could refer to your clients as “the homeless people of New York City. ” But that sounds as cold as they usually are. Another way of writing that is to refer to “the homeless people of our city. ”

Using the right pronouns (you, your, we and others) in your appeal letters helps you build relationships and retain your donors, even when you mail your letters to thousands of donors that you do not know personally.

About the author
Alan Sharpe is a professional fundraising letter writer, instructor and mentor who helps non-profit organizations raise funds, build relationships and retain loyal donors using creative fundraising letters. Learn more about his services, view free sample fundraising letters , and sign up for free weekly tips like this at .


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