Crafting Fundraising Letters To Increase Donations

Although many people are swept up in quick-moving digital communication, one under-utilized tool in the world of non-profit organizations is fundraising letters. Fundraising letters are an effective method of reaching potential donors and can be easily sent out through e-mail or through standard letters. They are an easy way to include a personal touch in your communication.

It is important to have a solid plan when writing a letter. Whether you are looking for immediate donations or introducing the concept of planned giving, there are specific formats and language that have been proven to provide wildly successful results. Fundraising letters are an art. 

When drafting a fundraising letter, below are some key ideas to consider. You should also consider taking our course, The Secrets of the World’s Best Fundraising Letters.

#1 Clarify Your Fundraising Mission

Sitting down to write a detailed letter can be daunting. It is easy to get overwhelmed, so it is essential that you know exactly what you want to say before you begin. Donors are less likely to read a wordy, unorganized letter — they only have so much time in the day. In order to increase the probability of the letter being read and receiving a response, make sure your message is straightforward. 

Before you write, consider the following:

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What is your relationship with the recipient? Do they need background information?
  3. What information are you looking to provide? Do you need to explain planned gifts?
  4. What is the purpose of this letter? Relationship building? Monetary donations?
  5. What would make the recipient willing to donate after reading?

The easiest strategy is to outline the important points before you start to craft the letter. Knowing what you want to say will help you keep your writing concise and easy to read. You only have so much time to make an impression, so it is essential to hit it out of the park. 

#2 Structure Your Fundraising Letter

Fundraising letters are unique because there is a very specific goal in mind. You want your recipient to donate to your organization, and there are well-known ways to make your letter more effective. Many fundraisers and major gifts officers use a similar style guide. They include stylistic elements that make your letter pop to the reader.  This is for good reason  —  the technique drives results. 

The way you structure the text can make or break receiving a donation. For example, including elements such as a hook and specific styles of text can increase your chances of success. Most people decide whether something is worth reading after the first sentence. 

This is your opportunity to use a persuasive hook to keep them reading. Also, including bold text will draw the reader’s eye to your most important lines. Incorporating bullet points also allows for easier readability. 

#3 Be Specific About Your Donation Request

People are busy and usually don’t have time to search for the message in a letter. You’re lucky they took the time to read in the first place, so make every single word count. Don’t beat around the bush and make them wonder what you are asking for. 

Directly asking for a donation is the way to go. Using a statement that includes specific donation amounts is crucial to landing a donation. For example, say “Can we count on you to make a $25 dollar donation?” instead of “We look forward to your support!”. This will spark an expected monetary value and lead to an increased likelihood of success. 

A great technique is to repeat the message in the text. Re-confirming your request near the end of the letter is just as important as including it in your hook. 

#4 Use Persuasive Fundraising Language

If you have any experience in writing for an audience, you know that there are specific words you can use to increase your chances of landing a successful deal. It is well known that people like to be the main character in a story, so using “you” language is vital. The recipient is more like to continue reading and understand their role in donating to your organization. This language should be naturally integrated into your letter. The letter should be written as if it is specifically targeting that person. The recipient should feel that their own values and beliefs are aligned with your organization’s. Let the recipient know that they are the hero of your story.

Creating a fundraising letter doesn’t have to be intimidating or frustrating. Formulating a solid plan, implementing specific structures and stylistic techniques, as well as appealing to the recipient’s sense of duty will aid you in meeting your goals.