A recent piece in the New York Times Magazine briefly discusses how to write a love letter. Not only did we find the article interesting, we also noticed the striking similarities between the advice the author Malia Wollan (quoting Professor Sonia Cancian) provides for composing the love letter and the techniques used to write an appeal letter to donors and members. Some of the more notable excerpts from the article are reproduced below:
1. “A letter has a remarkable way of transpiring feelings, emotions, honesty, sincerity, and authenticity.”
2. “You have to strike a balance between poetry and descriptions of everyday life.”.
And last but not least.
3. “When you are in love with someone, you want to know what world surrounds them.”
Perhaps the comparison between love letters is a bit contrived. Nevertheless, the goal of establishing a genuine personal connection remains central to both instruments. I use the word “instrument” because I want to emphasize that personal letters are simply tools – tools used by the sender to create an experience for the reader. The experience begins by vividly describing the current state of affairs: the “everyday life” of the reader and the “world that surrounds them “as mentioned above.
But the letter’s true magic lies in its ability to lift the reader out of her everyday humdrum life and whisk her away into a completely novel setting, one on which the pain, suffering and want that characterizes ordinary human life is vanquished all thanks to the reader. In the context of a love letter, this transformative and euphoric state is caused by the writer and the recipient coming together in space and time and loving each other while becoming a spiritual entity. This union leads to the “happily ever after”. In the context of an appeal, however, it is the heroic efforts of the donor that allows the world to flourish.
Thus all successful letters provide a sort of window into an alternate reality, a vision of potential utopia. But whether that utopia becomes reality is left as an open question in the letter. It is presented by the writer as a choice to be made by the reader. In a love letter, the question asked is – “will you reciprocate my love for you?” But in the appeal the donor is asked – “will you love and support our cause and people we help?” The proverbial ball is left in the recipient’s court, and only when she takes action is goodness restored to her world. That’s the genius of a well-written letter; it creates an experience that transcends ordinary life and inspires the reader to make an enlightened choice.
As we have mentioned a few times before, writing effective appeals is as much art as it is science. It also requires constant practice, tinkering, and experimentation. Luckily, we have a team of dedicated writers who are more than happy to help you craft your organization’s appeal letter for any campaign you want to launch. Don’t get stuck at the last minute with the stressful task of writing the appeal letter that your organization’s fundraising campaign depends on to stay afloat. Let us take the pressure off of you so you can get back to doing the job you signed up for without any more distractions.
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