Guide to Writing Fundraising Letters
Thank you for being a loyal reader of my monthly e-newsletter. I appreciate the positive feedback many of you have provided and plan to continue to provide informative content based on your fundraising and direct response questions and concerns. One of the questions you had was how to write effective fundraising appeal letters. Start by putting these 8 Tips for Effective Fundraising Letters in place today.
8 Letter Writing Tips to Increase Donations
1. Thank the donor
Donors want to know they are appreciated. When you tell the donor you appreciate them, let them know why. An example would be: “I want to thank you for your recent gift. Because you gave generously, families in remote villages have access to clean water.”
Thanking and reinforcing the donor’s reason for giving lets them know they made a good choice by giving to your organization. They are aware of how their money was put to good use and how their donation is vital to your cause.
2. Use the word “You”
It’s important to direct the letter to the person who is reading it by utilizing the word “you” several times within the letter copy. Examples such as: “You have made a difference by…” or “You are important to us because…” goes a long way in creating an emotional connection with the reader.
3. Bring on the emotion
Heartwarming and compelling letter copy results in more donations than copy that is dry and shallow. It’s about storytelling, not just telling.
Paint a picture and show how donations are helping others. In other words, you could write something such as “Your donation helped people in Puerto Rico receive medical supplies.” Or you could write, “Thank you for helping save lives. Gloria has diabetes and is insulin dependent. Because of your generosity you have helped provide critical lifesaving medical supplies to more people like Gloria who are in remote areas of Puerto Rico. But the future is uncertain.”
This paints a picture of who is using the medicine, why it is needed, and what is ahead for the future. Touching on emotional issues and letting the donor know who they helped and how contributions are used will compel them to give another gift. An uncertain future provides the impetus that more needs to be done.
4. Ask for a donation several times
Throughout the letter copy it is important to use words such as: “Please give,” ”Send a gift,” “Donate now,” and “Make a donation.” If you don’t ask for a donation, or a gift, or a contribution, you won’t get one.
5. Convey urgency
Use words such as today and now. Utilizing “Please give a gift today,” and “Donate now,” show the donor that donations are still needed and they’re needed sooner than later. You also want the donor to give as soon as possible, rather than putting the appeal in a desk drawer never to be found again, or even worse – the garbage. Consider adding a deadline date to the P.S. of the letter and even the outer envelope.
6. Include one or two postscripts
Studies show people read postscripts before the body text. The postscript should be a call to donate, a new benefit, an intriguing fact, or explaining why it is urgent to send a gift today.
7. Personalize the salutation
Utilizing the donor’s name captures attention. However, when writing to the donor it’s important to also refer to them based upon their connection to your organization. Whether they are a valued member or donor, an alumni, visitor, or patient, remind them of the connection to your organization.
8. Test additional personalization
A donor’s name should always be in the address heading and in the salutation. However, have you considered adding it to a thank you sentence, in the ask sentence, or/and in the P.S.?
Give it a try and test it! Oftentimes, results are dramatic. Also consider including the number of years of consecutive giving or the year in which the first donation was received. Examples such as: “Supporter Since 2012,” or “Thank you for 5 years of giving,” go a long way in creating a personal connection.
If you’ve been struggling to make your appeal letter more responsive or are looking for a few tips for your holiday appeal, email the letter copy to me today. Contact me and I’ll give you a few targeted suggestions to create a donor-centric letter that gets responses.