Does one size really fit all? It has been my experience that one size may be worn by all – but it will certainly look different depending on the size of the person wearing it! One size, in reality, doesn’t fit most, let alone all. The same is definitely true with letter writing and the annual campaign. Unfortunately, most churches have not learned what their college alumni association knows about this vital communication. Different size givers get different letters. Different generations of givers, get different letters. One size does not fit all.
Larger donors, regular donors and older donors will respond differently than small, infrequent, potential donors (those never having given at all), or younger donors. In the church, we usually send one letter to everyone, assuming the same motivation, capacity, investment and desire exists in each receiver. Nothing could be further than the truth!
For the large donor who is consistent and has capacity, the “church needs your money” letter lacks a thank you for their generosity and fails to acknowledge their long standing commitment. It also does not motivate them to grow beyond where they are at the moment. For the church member who has yet to discover the joy associated with giving (20% of church members give nothing to charity – ever!), the request to tithe is simply beyond their grasp. This person needs to be challenged to just consider giving up a coffee shop indulgence once a week to be able to start giving to something that matters. Mid-range givers and people in the Gen-X, Gen-Y, Millennial generations need proof that their gifts actually go to work and make a difference in the world. We (the church) have incorrectly assumed that these generations are selfish. Statistically this is not a reality. This generation wants to give, and most often wants to actually do the work rather than simply make a donation.
This means our letters need to better reflect the receiver. A few examples of different types of letters are available below. These particular letters are letters that I have written for the Finance Ministry of the congregation where I am a member. Your letters will look different, but you will see from these examples how they are specifically targeted.
These letters are often the single most important communication we have with our members during the annual campaign. Take the time to craft them well and to practice a policy that believes “one size fits none”. Even if you don’t know the level of giving, your Financial Secretary does, and you can craft different letters, allowing that person “confidentially” mail them to the correct and appropriate household.