The next time you write an appeal, make sure you include a P.S. at the end.
Most people will read a P.S. in an appeal before they ever read the first paragraph. One study says that 90% will read a P.S. first. Another one says 79% will read it first. Figures vary from researcher to researcher, but you can depend upon your readers looking for a post script before they ever delve into the letter itself.
This includes donors!
Because your readers will see the P.S. before they ever read the rest of your appeal, it’s one of the best ways to communicate exactly what you need to tell your donors.
There are three important elements to include in your P.S. if you want to make the most impact—here’s a breakdown of each!
P.S. Element #1: The Pointed Appeal
Your P.S. is the perfect place to reiterate your appeal’s call to action. If your appeal is asking people to donate, use your P.S. to establish and reiterate that you need your donors’ financial help. The more specific you can be here, the better! In this article, Gail Perry, CFRE and international fundraising coach, suggests being as specific as possible in your appeals. She even encourages you to ask for a specific dollar amount! She says, “You really need to put a dollar amount in your letter. All the direct-mail experts say that you’ll raise more if you ask for a specific amount. Use a larger number, not smaller.”
There are tons of reasons this is an effective strategy, but one of the biggest is that donors appreciate knowing exactly what you need. The less they have to think through when they make a donation, the better! A quick tip: think through the amount you’re asking donors to give. Asking for $10 is aiming too low. Asking for $5,000 is way (way) too high. Asking for $500 is still pretty high. Asking for $50? That works!
When you ask for a specific amount, don’t forget to allow donors to choose a different amount. The majority of donors will give more if you ask for a specific amount, but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on smaller (or larger!) gifts.
Hey Qgiv clients: want to make giving the specified amount easier for your donors? When you send out an appeal, link directly to your form with the gift amount pre-selected. To do that, go to your control panel, navigate to your campaign’s form, and click “Donation Amounts.” Find the donation amount you’d like to link to, then click the “Copy URL” button. Boom! The URL will take your donors to your campaign form with that amount already selected. Easy.
P.S. Element #2: A Sense of Urgency
If your donors are anything like me, they tend to procrastinate. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve opened appeals and then set them aside to look at later… and then tossed weeks later because my dining room table is getting out of control. Same for my inbox.
One way to mitigate your readers’ procrastination is to use your P.S. to establish a sense of urgency. First, establish how your donors can make a difference. Then, establish why your donors should make a difference right now instead of putting it off. Should they donate because the weather is getting colder and the need for shelter is growing? Is time running out for a patient who desperately needs help? Will they prevent a family from going hungry this Christmas if they donate today? Let them know!
A word to the wise: donors aren’t always motivated by what motivates you. Remember: donors give to people, not to organizations. Should they give today because your animal shelter just got an influx of sick kittens? Yes! Should they donate because your fiscal year is almost over? Booooooring.
P.S. Element #3: Knock Their Socks Off
Fundraising appeals should be written to show donors a problem they care about solving and invite them to solve it by donating. As cool as your nonprofit is, take yourself out of the equation. Donors don’t give to the SPCA because they’re super into the SPCA—they give because they’re super into animal welfare. They don’t give to charity:water because charity:water is great—they give because they’re passionate about providing clean drinking water to communities all over the globe.
When you’re asking for a specific, timely gift, show donors the problems they’ll solve and thank them for being the solution. You care about making your fundraising goals or finishing your fiscal year. Your donors don’t. They care about making a difference in the world, solving problems they care about, and knowing that their gift is seen and appreciated. If you can use your P.S. as an urgent rallying cry for a group of passionate donors to make the world a better place, you’re in good shape.
If you’re writing an appeal, spend the time you need to write and perfect a fantastic post script. It’s the part of your appeal that has the most potential to make an impression on donors and inspire them to donate. Don’t skip it!