The Planned Giving Blogger

The art and science of planned giving.

The disappearing cover letter.

with one comment

It’s always been curious to me that most organizations send their planned giving newsletters in an envelope but then fail to include a cover letter.  I don’t get it.  Why go to the trouble of making your mailing look personalized by sending it in an envelope (and sometimes adding a pre-cancelled first class or nonprofit stamp) and then de-personalize it by not including a cover letter?  If you were sending something to a friend, would you send it without at least a note?  Not likely.  You might not include a letter, but you’d certainly add a post-it note or a piece of note paper.  Not only is it a warmer and, I might add, proper way to communicate with your best prospects, but most of our planned giving donors are of the age where a letter  is still a preferred mode of communication.  And, that goes for Boomers, too!

Including a cover letter enables you to take advantage of some key strategies for getting your newsletter read and acted upon.  For one thing, you can tailor the messaging to the audience.  I pointed out in an earlier blog the importance of crafting a special reply card for your legacy society donors.  They warrant a personalized letter, too.  After all, maybe they’re wondering why they’re still getting estate planning information from you when they’ve already told you they have you in their plans.  The cover letter enables you to explain to them that personal situations and laws change over time so you thought they’d like to be kept informed.

A cover letter also allows you to highlight a particular article you want the donor to read if they have time to read only one article.  Not only does that “call to action” serve as an involvement device that helps move the recipient to open the newsletter, but it can highlight time-sensitive information you want the donor to quickly see.  Year-end IRA giving information is a good example of this.

And because the majority of the cost of your newsletter is in postage and the newsletter itself, the addition of a cover letter won’t break your budget and will likely improve response, too.


P.S.  Don’t forget to add a P.S. to your cover letter.  It’s the most read part of a letter.  Use it to provide key information that may be in the body of the letter but is worthy of highlighting again.  Or use that space to give a name and phone number the donor can call with questions, ask for a visit or otherwise engage with you.


Written by Phyllis Freedman

April 30, 2009 at 10:51 am

One Response

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  1. Phyllis, congratulations on this awesome blog! Very exciting to read.

    Charles Best

    April 30, 2009 at 6:21 pm

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