It’s Time to Write your Thanksgiving and Christmas Letters!
I know, I know. Even thinking about Thanksgiving or Christmas before Halloween is sacrilege. Why just last week huge Christmas displays were up in Home Depot. And Costco started sneaking Christmas merchandise out in September (or was it July?) for heaven’s sake. Don’t they know they shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day? Where are their manners?
But, think (and act) you must because, before you know it, you will be caught in a whirlwind of seasonal activity. And unless you plan, your year-end letter – whether it’s for a special project or to reach your year-end budget goals - will be hastily dashed off and probably not nearly as good as it could have been, if only you had given yourself a little more time.
Jeff Brooks’ The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications provides some great tips on writing special appeal letters:
• Write to people like they are friends, not business associates
• Feel free to use incorrect grammar (but don’t tell Mrs. Johnston, my high school English teacher) but do spell and use punctuation correctly
• Remember, the letter is about the person you are writing to – Brooks likes to write letters with the “BOY Rule” in mind: “Because of You”
• Don’t drop the font size below 12 point - anything smaller is too hard to read
• Write in plain English – the more complex the letter, the more people will disconnect from it
• Actually ask – and tell people where their funds will go
• And maybe most importantly, help the person reading the letter to be inspired to change the world
That’s one reason I love doing what I do – because I know people’s hard-earned dollars are indeed making a tremendous difference in the lives of so many people. I have seen the evidence of lives changed. So forget the etiquette books – begin writing those Thanksgiving and Christmas letters now. I’m betting that you might even feel inspired to say a prayer of gratitude for your congregation by the time you dot your last “i” or cross that last “t.”
P.S. If you think it would be helpful, I’m happy to review your year-end ask letters and give you feedback. Just send them to me (Cesie) at email@example.com
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise nearly $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.