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:
  1. Send the whole thing as a PDF document by email, heaving, expensive paper is not a good indicator that my money is spent wisely
  2. 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
  3. 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.

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