Nov 5th, 2018

How to Write a Compelling Fundraising Letter

CFCM realizes that many of our readers are leaders of Not for Profits (NFPs) in our Central Missouri region. Raising money to support the core mission of their venture is an on-going concern. One important tool for the development of any NFP is to compose an attention-getting and compelling fundraising letter. While many organizations now prefer a digital approach, an actual, personalized USPS-delivered letter continues to have value. Personalized email letters work, too.

Here are some pointers as to how to compose such a letter:

  1. Start by telling a down-to-earth narrative. Your fundraising letter should start with a story — one that fully engages your current and potential supporters on your issue or the problem your organization is working to address. You want to appeal to readers’ hearts with telling details about the people you are trying to help and show them how your work is making life better for a multitude of people. The idea is to put the reader in the shoes of a person who could benefit from his/her donation. That said, don’t drag it out: this story-telling part of the letter should only be a few sentences long.
  2. Succinctly define the problem. This is the part of the letter where you need to be as straightforward as possible. Keep it short and simple, but make sure you outline the larger issue and explain the underlying problem.
  3. Present your goal. Once you’ve grabbed your readers’ attention and defined the problem, it’s time to tell them about your goals for the fundraising campaign. Doing so will help current and potential supporters understand how their donations will be used and who will benefit. Be sure to explain the urgency of the situation — your aim is to convince supporters and potential supporters to act quickly. You should also tell them what your organization has already done to address the problem and how the campaign is going. People are far more likely to give if they know a campaign already has some traction.
  4. Ask for help. After you’ve shared your goals for the campaign, it’s time to make “the ask.” Don’t worry about coming off as “pushy.” Your letter is meant to raise money to help people in need. Now is the time to trumpet your call to action. Emphasize how your reader’s donation will change lives, and be sure to tell them that while any amount helps, more is better.
  5. Be humble. No matter how direct your ask may be, striking a humble and respectful tone throughout will help make current and potential supporters feel valued and important. Donors will appreciate and respond to such a tone of approach.

Writing a good fundraising letter is all about telling a story that helps the reader understand why their donation will make a positive difference. The words you use should jump off the page and embed your cause or issue in the minds of your readers. If you incorporate the advice outlined above, your supporters and potential supporters will have every reason to reach for their checkbook or favorite online giving app. Good luck!

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