I’ll skip to the end and tell you how:
Set some ground rules with whoever you ask to sign your fundraising letter.
Usually, a letter signer won’t sign a fundraising letter for the following reasons:
a. Because it doesn’t sound like her
b. Because it looks weird (i.e. the letter is long, has too many underlines, funky bold lettering, etc)
c. Because it sounds too informal and colloquial
To ensure that your signer will sign the letter you’ve got to politely set some ground rules as follows:
GROUND RULE #1: It isn’t about the signer. Explain that, when it comes to fundraising, the donor needs to be the hero and the signer needs to help make the donor feel that way. Therefore, it might not sound like the signer, it might not look pretty and the signer will probably think it won’t work to raise money.
GROUND RULE #2: The signer’s role. Her role is to sign the letter while yours is to do what you must to ensure that the letter does what it’s supposed to do— raise a ton of money. Note: That’s a polite way of saying that the signer needs to let you do your job. You have the expertise. This is what you get paid for. I know it sounds snarky but maybe you can make a deal with your signer as follows: You won’t go to her office and try to do her job if she’ll let you do yours (Be sure to smile when you say it).
GROUND RULE #3: This is a science. Fundraising letters are not like business letters, thank you letters, subpoena letters or any other letters. Tons of research has been focused on what works and what doesn’t. Therefore, you need to make sure she knows that we don’t “wing it” when it comes to writing fundraising letters. Her gut feel has not been tested (unlike your direct mail experience).
GROUND RULE #4: You have the right to change signers. Whew! This one might be tough. But, you should seek to gain agreement in advance that the signer will let you switch signers if he or she doesn’t like your letter.
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