Innovative Business Writing
Tips for Successful Fundraising Letters
An effective fundraising letter is an appeal from one person to another. Use "I" and
Your letter should describe an opportunity for the recipient to meet their personal
needs by supporting a worthy cause.
Donors need lots of information to be persuaded to send money. You need to provide
proof you are doing the things you say you are doing. Give specific details in your
fundraising letter on how the money will be used.
Human interest sells, so tell a story. Be clear and keep the vocabulary simple. Use
compact, powerful words and short, punchy sentences. Use words that convey
emotions over those that communicate thoughts.
Don't use statistics, use real-life examples.
Statistics approach: "Innocent children die from this
disease. However, with early treatment, three out of four will
Real-life example: We lost Sally today. Her mother and
father knew her days were numbered. But, Billy, Sarah and
Bob will live because we were able to get them treatment
Format your fundraising letter for easy reading by varying the
length of paragraphs (no more than 6 or 7 lines long).
Give readers of the letter a reason to send money now. Create a
sense of urgency. And say "thank you" in advance.
Answer these questions prior to preparing your fundraising letter:
What is the purpose of the appeal?
Who are you writing to? What do you know about them?
What problem or need will the appeal address?
What benefits will donors get (tangible and intangible)?
The approach you use can vary depending on whether you are sending an "acquisition
letter" to people who have not donated to your cause before, or a "renewal letter" to those
who have contributed in the past.
Don't be afraid to use the "M" word. If your not-for-profit organization needs money, ask
for it. Don't use generalizations like "Your contribution will help feed the needy." Be specific.
Tell them exactly what their money will do. And be enthusiastic about the difference it will
Provide them a number of ways to give - e.g., mail a check,use their credit card, call a toll
free telephone number, go to your website.