The cover letter of a fund raising letter for an academic institution I just received in the physical mail has the same mistakes as cover emails for fund raising presentations.
- The first two paragraphs start with “I”
- The letter is dated 4 weeks ago
- These same paragraphs are full of generic marketing speak that all academic institutions are using, top-tier institution, remarkable faculty, break-through research, teaching excellence, prestigious awards.
- Then comes the ask for funding
- Then an appeal to share the values of the founders of the institution
- The rest of the envelop contains reports and statistics (mostly text) on expensive, heavy paper
Here is what I would do different:
- Send the whole thing as a PDF document by email, heaving, expensive paper is not a good indicator that my money is spent wisely
- Write a very short first page: here is the annual fund raising mailing, we need your money to maintain our brand (and that means you, alumni, your own reputation). Obviously not as bluntly stated as here
- Add a very visual presentation: Images of the campus that remind my of my own time there, and see how it developed since then. Images of some students and/or faculty and the great things they are doing (the visual backup of the vague statements made in the letter). A visual presentation of the great things the institution is going to do with my money. Many tiny pictures/stories of students that have donated to build peer pressure to do the same.