You know you have a good cause worthy of support, but writing a fundraising letter that convinces potential donors of this is not always easy. In order to help, we’ve brought together some of the best insight to help you write the perfect fundraising letter every time.
In this article you will find specific advice on how to craft each of the three major parts of a fundraising letter, an example letter, and extra tips to help guide you.
1. The Introduction
Grab the reader’s attention – Start your letter with in kind donation something that will captivate the reader: a bold question, statement or story of a specific person or situation that your charity has helped. Telling a story and creating a scene is one of the most successful ways to get your message across. It gives the reader a glimpse into your world and reminds them why your mission is so important.
Update reader on what their last donation achieved – Research shows that telling donors what their last donation achieved before asking for another gift is the key holding onto your donors and moving them up the donor pyramid. (See “Research Shows New Dos and Don’ts of Fundraising” in the Sumac Library).
Focus on a specific program or initiative – Organizations that have multiple project areas may be inclined to include information about everything they do in one letter, but this is a mistake. Talking about everything is likely to overwhelm the reader. Instead, focus on a particular project or theme and provide details and stories to make it real for the reader.
Thank donors and tell them they are necessary – If you are writing to previous donors, be sure to thank them for their previous contributions and tell them that they are still needed; that you require their help to keep your services going.
2. The ask
Explain the cause – You want to leave people with the impression that it is absolutely critical that you continue to do what you do. In order to do that, you need to show that there is a need and that your organization is critical in effectively addressing that need.
Suggest donation amounts and what it will achieve – You should list suggested donation amounts that are appropriate for the particular donor. Also, be sure to state the impact of the gift so donors know exactly what they are giving. For example: your donation of $25 will feed and clothe a hungry child for a month.
Detail the consequences of not acting – In order to show the donor that their donation is important, you may also want to state the impact of not acting. For instance: “Every donation is important and the need is always great. Without donations like yours, more children will have to go without; without shelter, food and clean water.” You have to be very careful, however, not to sound like you are whining. If the message focuses too much on negative impacts, it will be a downer and will be much less effective.
3. The Closing
Thank donors in advance for their support – Make sure to thank donors in advance. It subtly assumes that they will contribute to the cause and shows that you have faith in them to do the right thing.
Tell them again why their contribution is so important – You may also want to reinforce here why you need their help and what are the consequences of not acting.