What is it about sponsorship letters that make some super engaging to potential sponsors, while others just get put (or sent) to the trash without really being read?
Why do some bring in a lot of money, while others seem to be a waste of time, and sometimes paper, creating?
Here are some quick and easy steps that you can do to make your sponsorship letters stand out.
Make it Personal
The biggest and easiest step of all comes right at the beginning! Don't you love an early win?!
Start by addressing your letter to a specific person. Before I send out letters blindly, I always do a little leg work and make calls or Google search to find out who the right person to contact is and make sure that I get the correct spelling of their name.
This might seem tedious, but this hour or so is worth it. Remember, you are trying to build authentic relationships here anyway, not just spam companies blindly.
Also, if a letter is sent to an office and isn't addressed to anyone in particular, who reads it?
Well, unless they have a rockstar receptionist or assistant who will get it to the right person, usually the answer is no one. If it's not addressed to anyone, then no one is responsible for it.
Make it friendly
Create a letter with an opening line that's friendly, or that people want to read. A lot of the fundraising ask letters that I see are super dull and really don't connect. Why do I want to read this?
Along those same lines, write a letter that's easy to understand. That means cut the industry jargon and use simple words instead.
Can a 5th grader read this letter and have an idea of what you're talking about? Awesome!
Keeping the words inviting and simple also makes the letter faster to read, which will make people happy.
Its super important to remember that when you reach out to people, you have a very limited window of that person’s attention.
Most people will skim the first line, and skip to the end. Usually people will read anything just enough to see if it falls into one of two buckets. 1. FIRE! Super Important and Potentially Painful! Have to Do NOW! Or 2. Meh, I can ignore it.
Sounds pretty funny right, but think of how you scan your own email box. Do you scan first for anything that has to be done right this second? And if you don’t see anything, have you ever closed your inbox without opening a single email, happy to go on your merry way?
I definitely have.
So letters are a complete waste of your time then, and you don’t have to be bothered right?
Nope! Not getting off that easy!
My point is that since you will have so little of someone’s attention, you have to make it count.
Make a Scene
No, I don't mean in a “toddler screaming in the grocery store” kinda way.
What’s the best way to get anyone’s attention? Through telling a story. And not just any story, one that pulls people to connect emotionally.
Late night infomercials are the KING of this! Ever wonder why you’re casually flipping through channels, then realize you’ve been watching some random infomercial for an hour?
Or why the commercials about feeding starving kids all over the world start with introducing you to them by name?
Take a second to watch this one.
Now, I don’t know about you, but my heart is bleeding for Nelson! I want to find him and feed him and bring him home and give him all the cuddles! ALL OF THEM!
If you’re like me, you’re also doing some late night snacking while watching tv. So then you feel guilty for eating in front of Nelson who’s hungry. And BAM, you donate $100 and feel slightly better.
And don’t even get me started on Sara McLachlan and those poor puppies! TAKE ALL MY MONEY!
In all seriousness though, does Nelson need help? Yes. Do we need to be exposed to what's going on outside our own neighborhoods? Definitely. In fact, there are many hungry children right here in the “Land of the Free” too. Is it our responsibility to help kids like Nelson or to keep cruelty from happening? I believe it is, but that one is up to each of us personally.
My point is that by telling you a story and connecting to your emotions, these organizations get you to stop what you’re doing and think of the answers to these questions.
“People won’t always remember what you said. But they remember how you made them feel”
The same goes for your cause. There are always many organizations and individual people out there trying to do the same good work as you. The difference is in the story and how we connect to people emotionally.
This doesn’t mean make up some outrageous story just to scare people. Not cool. And also, those things don’t ever last because people will sniff out the lies.
You can use a simple story of how your backpack supply drive made a huge difference to one kid, and how excited they were to have a brand new backpack to start of their first day of Kindergarten.
We can all remember how exciting the first day of school was, how excited and nervous we were to make new friends, and how little things like having a backpack made us just a little more confident to walk into that classroom door ready to learn.
Can you imagine that child’s face lighting up when they see what someone got just for them? Can you imagine how excited they are about the next day, laying out their notebooks and pencils? Don’t you want to be a part of bringing just a little of that joy into someone’s world?
I’m a firm believer that life is all about the little moments like that. No matter what it is, there is a way to really connect with people. Where we get the most out of life is where we are able to simply and honestly share in our human experiences.
Everybody likes perks
Sure, you're telling me facts about why this is important, but why do I care? Why should I give you my money, time, etc?
We might want people to give us things out of the goodness if their heart, and yes, that will happen. But finding ways to make it worth their while first is a great way to tip the scales in your favor.
Especially if you're writing to organizations. Even non-profits should be run like a business. This means that offering some sort of perk is actually expected.
That can mean getting their logo on your event materials, promoting them in emails related to the event or on social media.
If you have any lists that are large, let them know the number of people who would see it. Give them another reason to say yes.
Keep it short
Now, when telling your story, it has to be short and sweet. Just enough to get the emotions, and the point across. Busy people and epic tales don't mix.
That story I told you earlier about the first day of school? I would recommend writing your story out like that initially, and then tweak it in your letter. Play with shortening sentences, or breaking it up so that it becomes a theme that weaves in with the rest of your letter.
I recommend that your letter be no longer than a page. And that should be a page with a lot of space, typically with a comfortable space for a signature at the bottom, and a font that's slightly larger than you would normally have.
Why? Because people will also be scanning to see how much effort is required in reading it. If it seems too long at first glance, people won't read it at all.
A lot of organizations that you reach out to will want an “official letter”. This just means they want it on some sort of letterhead. Create a template with your organization's logo in the top header, and your address and website in the footer. Some organizations will also include a small section about their organization’s mission.
I do this in Google docs by creating a template where I just Make A Copy, then change the date, contact name, organization, and ask.
Doing it in Google docs also makes it easier for the whole team to have updated versions as you go.
Time to write
Fundraising can be fun and easy, if you let it. Sure, you can see it as sending out a bunch of letters that take a lot of time and no one reads them anyway.
Or it can be an amazing way to connect with people, let them know the good that you are trying to do, and giving them the opportunity to be a part of that great experience as well.
Did you find this blog helpful? Do you have any other tips that have worked well in your letters? Let me know in the comments below!