How to Write a Fundraising Letter

There are many ways to request donations from active charity donors. One of the most popular and most efficient ways to do this is by writing fundraising letters. The results of fundraising campaigns significantly depend on the purpose of the fundraising letter, the way it is written, and the recipients themselves.

Steps for Writing a Fundraising Letter

  1. Set the purpose of your letter. A fundraising letter may contain a request for financial donations, sponsorship requests or requests for goods or services. These letters ask the reader to take action by providing financial or other material aid; however, the content of the letter must correspond only with its category, so avoid asking for sponsorship and financial aid in the same letter.
  2. Decide on and understand your target audience. The target audience (a charitable organization or a private person) is, to some extent, defined by the type of the fundraising letter. Still, you must understand the message from your reader’s point of view; know your addressee’s donating capabilities and how intense their desire to donate may be.
  3. Introduce yourself and your organization. Anticipate some possible questions that your addressee might have from the very beginning. For example, you can specify the reputation of your organization, its mission and the purpose for the letter.
  4. Explain your cause in the first paragraph of the main body section: introduce a specific need, state how important it is and mention the significant role of your organization in satisfying that need. Claim that your addressee can make a great contribution by satisfying the need and providing invaluable assistance by donating.
  5. In the second paragraph of the main body, clarify exactly what donating will achieve and set the levels of donation amounts.
  6. In the third paragraph, describe the consequences that may arise in the case of not acting. This helps donors understand how important their contributions are, and besides, it serves as an additional motivation factor.
  7. In the conclusion section, thank your donors in advance for their support and understanding, and briefly remind them of the importance and necessity of their aid.

Topic Selection

The subject of a fundraising letter depends on your purpose. For instance, fundraising letters can request:

  • general donations
  • annual fund solicitations
  • special event attendance
  • program-specific donations
  • sponsorship
  • donations for charity auction items

Key Points to Consider

  1. Follow up after you sent out your fundraising letters. This is usually done via phone, with second mail-outs, postcards, thank you letters or even handwritten notes. This will endear some of the donors towards your organization, which is useful if you plan on cooperating with these donors in the future.
  2. Get more attention to your fundraising letter by adding images to it. This makes the letter more interesting to read, but it is important to not overuse graphics. This may distract readers from the content of the letter.
  3. If you are using email to distribute your fundraising letter, don’t send the letter as an attachment.  People rarely open attachments from unfamiliar senders. On the other hand, placing your letter into the body of the email will increase its chances of being read.
  4. The fundraising letter must always include such components as the return address, the name of the organization, its phone number, and its logo.

Do and Don’t

Do

  • When writing a fundraising letter, do only address one person by name or surname. This way your letter looks less official and more personalized, thus creating the atmosphere of trust.
  • Do be specific about the project, program, or any other need for which you request aid.
  • Do stay focused on the primary objective of your letter. Make one request and communicate your message clearly.
  • Do make replying to your fundraising letter easy. If you are not using your organization’s letterhead, include the return address in your letter.
  • Do give a deadline for a response. This adds urgency to your letter and motivates the recipient to respond right away.
Don’t

  • Don’t ask for large donations. Always set reasonable donation amount levels and mind the donating capability of your addressee.
  • Don’t cover your request with streamlined phrases and don’t dance around the subject by making vague formulations and unclear requests.
  • Don’t focus on the needs of your organization, but instead keep your fundraising letter reader-focused by constantly using the “you” pronoun. For example, instead of writing, “We want to provide aid to people suffering from hunger,” writing “You can help us provide aid to people suffering from hunger,” is better.
  • Don’t write lengthy complicated sentences and avoid overusing different fonts, colors, and styles of formatting, since this only makes your letter more difficult to read.
  • Don’t use any abbreviations or acronyms.

Common Mistakes When Writing a Fundraising Letter

- Not stating the purpose of your fundraising letter from the very beginning. The quicker you get to the point, the better.

- Trying to cover too many objectives in one letter. Remember the rule: one request per fundraising letter.

- Forgetting to emphasize exactly how the donor will make a difference by donating to your organization. The donor must understand how and why their contribution is important.

Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic fundraising letter writing tips and rules, you can check out our fundraising letter samples to link theory with practice.

How to Write a Fundraising Letter
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