How Do I Write an Effective Fundraising Letter?
Increase your donor list and subsequently your donations
Much like writing effective sales copy, writing an effective fundraising letter isn’t easy. It’s no secret that non-profit organizations need the help of donors to make a difference. Reaching out to new potential donors and past donors is important to your cause and should be treated as such.
Grab their attention
Make an impression upon first glance
Writing effective copy is difficult enough on its own. If no one reads your copy then does it even matter if it’s effective? Consider using an interesting design to intrigue potential donors while they’re sorting the mail.
Don’t end up in the trash before you have the opportunity to make your pitch.
Oversized mail is proven to capture the attention of your readers. Utilize the size alongside eye-catching graphics and colors to increase the read-time of your mail piece.
Speak to your donor directly
Personalize! Adding the ability to personalize your direct mail helps increase the effectiveness of your copy and builds trust in what you’re saying. This is especially true when you’re writing to past donors who know you already have certain information. Never start a letter with, “Dear friend”. Unless it’s unavoidable from missing information always use the donors name, spelled correctly.
Make sure your list is segmented to include who donated and who didn’t. If someone on your list previously donated to your organization you might come off poorly if you don’t lead with an acknowledgment of that. Also, write conversationally. Write like your talking to to a good friend or a close relative. There’s no need for big words, which, can be bewildering in their nature.
Explain the need
Your potential donors need to know what they’re supporting
Convey exactly what their money supports. If you’re asking for different levels of donations then show what each amount will accomplish. i.e. $200 will feed a child for a year or $400 will feed two children for a year. Try telling a heartwarming story of someone your organization helped. Hard facts don’t always attract new donors, but, appealing to their emotions might. Your donors are the real heroes, so make them feel like it. Describe how your donors are helping your organization.
Make it easy for your potential donors to support your cause.
Include a reply card and a return envelope with your letter. List all of the ways they can donate. Include other options to donate like, visiting a link to a landing page to donate online or the ability to volunteer time, food, or clothing or whatever makes sense for your organization.
Don’t make it a hassle to donate
Every donation is vital, but, your donors might not know that
You need to explain that every little bit helps. No matter what your donors can give, let them know that it helps and how it helps. Give examples from past years if applicable. The CASA piece below states how your donation helps right on the front, “Today, your gift may help us reunite siblings with their family, provide a youth aging out of foster care with an advocate as she transitions into adulthood, or lead to the adoption of a foster child into a loving home. Thank you for making a difference.”
The mail piece below also includes several ways that you can donate. You can make a donation on their website, send a check, or give them a debit or credit card in the reply card. Including options to let the recipient renew their donation annually without sending more mail is another bonus that you may also consider adding. Anything you can do to make it easier for your potential donors the better.
Prove the difference that your donors make to remove any skepticism.
The worst thing they can do is say, “No” and that’s okay.
People don’t typically do anything they haven’t already planned on doing unless you ask them. Make sure that you’re direct and specific in what you’re asking from your donor. If you want them to donate $50 then ask them to donate $50. Maybe you’re looking for new volunteers. If you are then, ask people to volunteer their time and tell them where to sign up, where to go, and what to do.
Whether your potential donors are willing to give or not is unclear unless you ask.