10 Tips for Writing Better Fundraising Letters

  1. Appearance counts. Make your letter appealing and readable. Keep paragraphs short. Use subheads, bullets, centering, and other layout tools that guide the eye where you want it to go. Look at it with a designer’s eye so that it isn’t just a business letter, but a creative expression
  2. There is ongoing controversy about the length of letters, with most people assuming shorter is better. But there is no definitive answer on that, and studies have shown that people give larger gifts in response to longer letters. The length of the letter should be guided by the message
  3. Make your message real; humanize it. Connect with the reader, making him/her the “You” in the story
  4. Remember that people are motivated by benefits. Every nonprofit has needs so that can’t be the whole story. Make sure you make it clear how people will benefit from this donation
  5. While good grammar is key, don’t be afraid to deviate from what your English teachers drummed into you. Phrases instead of complete sentences are a good tool when they dramatize, underscore your message and convey emotion. One sentence can be a paragraph if it makes your point.
  6. Help the reader find your key points with underlining, bold face, italics. Use these tools sparingly but effectively to enable the reader to get your message even when scanning
  7. Don’t forget a P.S. that briefly reiterates your most important message. That and the first sentence as considered the most important components of the fundraising letter
  8. Repeated solicitation, without badgering, is critical to success. People often need repeated reminders to be moved to action. Don’t assume everyone received and read every previous mailing. Many people want to give more than once a year, or at least be reminded to do so
  9. Don’t forget to ask for money specifically. Too many letters dance around the real request. You’re asking for money – don’t be afraid to make that clear
  10. Say thank you quickly, personally, accurately. The thank you letter is the first step in securing a future gift.