7 Rules for Writing Effective Fundraising Letters

by | Mar 30, 2016

Write Something Worth Reading

An effective fundraising appeal is a solicitation from one person to another, describes an opportunity to meet the recipient’s personal needs or achieve personal desires by supporting a worthy, charitable cause, and invites the recipient to take specific and immediate action.

Before you begin writing, make sure you know precisely to whom you’re writing and why—and make that point just as clear to the recipient as it is to you!

7 Rules for Writing Effective Fundraising Letters

1.”You” Should Be the Magic Word

It’s all about your reader, not you. Every time you use the word “you” your reader pays more attention; it becomes their experience, not yours. Use this word as much as possible, especially in the first sentence to hook your reader from the beginning.

This also makes the letter more conversational—your letter is coming from a person to a person, so it feels warm and welcoming.

2. Appeal on the Basis of Benefits and Results, not Needs

Donors give because they get something in return, if only good feelings.

To tap their generosity, describe what they’ll receive in return for their money—lives saved, larger causes served, hospital technologies funded that they may need one day, tax benefits, the warm and fuzzies from simply giving back.

3. Ask for Money, Not “Support”

Ask clearly, explicitly, and repeatedly. It’s not an afterthought—it’s your whole reason for writing!

Include specific dollar amounts too; we like to use variable data to pull in a previous donor’s gift amount and increase the requests from that starting point.

4. Pack in the Emotional Triggers

The heart trumps the mind; it’s how we’re wired.

We want stories, not data. This is what compels us to take action. So, write about feeding people who are hungry or one specific child’s story, not about “giving them hope.” Explain how one person’s life was touched by the funds you’re requesting.

5. Write in Simple, Straightforward English

Compact, powerful words and short, punchy sentences are the goal.

Don’t talk over your reader’s head—make your letter and your asks as simple to understand as possible. A general rule of thumb is to write on a 6th to 8th-grade reading level. We always check our letters in Microsoft Word using the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Grade Level tool.

6. Format Your Letter for Easy Reading

The eye needs space to rest; if there’s too much copy you’re going to overwhelm the reader and they won’t bother with you.

Include breaks or spaces between paragraphs, bullet points, and subheads or bold fonts for important callouts, and write in short paragraphs no more than a few sentences long.

7. Give the Reader a Reason to Give Now!

Creating a sense of urgency goes a long way. Whether you’re giving your readers a deadline or piggybacking on a national observance that month as the basis for making a gift (i.e., gift a gift in honor of Doctor’s Day or National Hospice Month), do it with clarity and necessity.


Need help writing your next fundraising appeal letter? We can help! Give us a call at 800-669-1664 or click here to speak to one of our experienced writers.
Share This