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Published July 30, 2017

Think Anne Frank

I recently had a note from Mal Warwick. He wrote me from Shanghai.

You can never tell about Mal and what he’s up to. He’s one of the most creative and enterprising guys I know. And also among a very small handful of the best Direct Mail people in the country.

He has written at least a dozen books on the subject and each is magic. If you don’t have at least several of his books, you should. Even if you’re not in Direct Mail, you’ll learn a great deal about compelling writing and also how to write an effective letter to your donors. (You do remember, don’t you, what a letter is!)

In one of his books, he writes, “Make certain people feel really good about their gift. They want to know the results of their investment. People give because they want to make a difference.”

Keep your letters up-beat. Your organization is performing magic. Let people know that.

Another lesson I have learned from Mal is that anything you send out should be signed by one person. When I receive a letter signed by two (or more) people, I know it was probably prepared by someone in the fundraising office— not the signers.

I hardly need remind you of the value of telling the story. A story in a paragraph or two has more drama and emotional appeal than a two page letter.

Remember: statistics tell. Stories sell.

And finally, put your focus on one person you serve. I call it the Anne Frank Syndrome. People cannot get very emotionally involved or get their arms around the three million Jewish children who were killed in the Holocaust. The number is just too much to digest. But they do identify with Anne Frank and her story. You have dozens and dozens of wonderful and exciting stories. Tell Anne Frank stories.