PS has worked as a freelance writer since 2012. When she's not traveling and writing, she helps people with web design and development.
What is Fund-raising Letter?
A fund-raising letter is a storytelling letter generally written by non-profit organizations to ask for donations (mainly written on an annual basis). An organization urges people to support them in their respective mission. Through the letter, the organization describes their work, achievements and future thoughts.
A fund-raising letter might be an old technique, but still quite prevalent in the digital world.
To effectively communicate the message, the letter needs to contain a solid message that makes readers trust the organization. For this, it is important to understand the structure of the letter and how to make it appealing to the readers.
Format of a Fund-raising Letter
Fund-raising letters are very much similar to business letters and need to have 5 mandatory sections:
1. Overline / Heading
The heading is the most essential part of every letter. You need to craft an attention-grabbing headline that makes readers eager to read the whole letter. You need to make it exciting and show the emotion of urgency.
Create it to show the goal of your organization and what you are trying to convey through your letter. Ask a question, introduce a fact, write a line from an inspiring story or shock the readers, for example, consider this line:
“What could be worse than helplessly watching your two-year-old die? And there is nothing more satisfying than stealing him back from the heaven…”
After you have grabbed readers’ attention this is the time to tell them the story. The story needs to be focused on the emotional condition of the organization that makes readers connect with the situation and urges them to take immediate action. Clearly, state how they can show their participation and how will their donation be used.
Your closing must start with thanking your readers to pay attention to your story. And thanks to them, in advance, before they become a donor for your organization (though you never know if they will be or not).
This way you are showing your confidence in the readers and expect them to help you. Your closing must also talk about how their donation is going to be of huge importance to your organization.
4. P.S. (PostScript)
Many of us tend to ignore this part, but in general, this is the most read part of the whole letter. So, make sure to use impactful words here. The P.S. offers you to force your message strongly and generate a call to action.
For instance, consider the postscript written by an animal-welfare organization:
“P.S. All the animals need extensive emotional support, medical care, and behavior training. Thank you for showing your support to the XYZ organization. They are receiving every basic need, which is helping them to become the wonderful pet friends they were supposed to be. Please show your support and send your kind gifts to ensure they receive continuous care. Thank you so much!”
5. Reply Device
Now, you are done with grabbing readers’ attention and also, you have explained to them your story, this is the time to encourage your donors to do their part. You can include an easily understandable donation form, with an option where they can send the form or you may include the link to your website, where they can do an online donation.
How to approach the Potential Donors?
Urging people to donate the hard-earned money is not something everyone is good at. You need to be persuading and trustworthy enough to compel them to take action to support your organization. The letter is not just about expressing your needs and gratitude to the readers, it is much more than that. Your fund-raising letter needs to have that appeal and persuasiveness that makes readers connect with your situation.
22 Tips to Generate a Persuasive Fund-raising Annual Appeal Letter
1. Write Simple yet Emotional Content
The main objective of your letter is to attack the emotions of the readers and touch their heart, not brain.
Use simple and effective words, instead of long technical words or jargons. Maintain an easy communication with the readers.
2. Your first sentence must be the Champ
Readers’ likelihood to read the whole letter depends on the first few lines. Try if you can write something like this:
“Within the last 10 years, this is the most difficult and emotional letter I have ever written. I have been the senior executive of your social welfare center.”
3. Mention these Points
Your letter is incomplete if it doesn’t tell a story, describes a problem and probable solution for the same, to the readers. Also, include offers and relevant benefits. Make it urgent and emotional.
4. Make it long, if necessary
Write short and precise is our main motto when writing most of the content. But in the case of fundraising, it is recommended to go with the long letter. Since your mission is to convince a stranger, you need to include every possible point to win their heart.
5. Include a call to action
Add a call to action at the end of your letter to give a direction to your readers on what they should do next. Ask them to send their donation to respective address or drop a message on your website, whatever fits your better.
6. Write a donor-centric letter
Make sure to use “you” and “your” more than “we”, “us” and “our”. It emphasizes that you are writing to address the donor’s crucial role and his/her valuable contribution to the organization. It can be a little tough, but it is the most effective tool to grab your readers’ heart and mind.
For example, you may proceed with something like, “if you donate gifts, around 1500 kids will be thankful for your immense support and act of kindness, for you made their life better.”
7. Apply a deadline to show Urgency
Using deadline results in faster response and makes your readers concern about the urgent requirement.
You are giving them a reason to act fast, else something bad will happen.
Make them realize that if the immediate action is not taken to help the ones in need, then it can lead to worse situations.
8. Persuade readers through “Why”
That’s the soul of the letter. Every now and then, explain to the readers why you need their support and why their gift is so precious for you. Give them solid reasons to contribute.
9. Add a groundbreaking PS (PostScript)
The PS is the most important element of such type of letters. If you know, then PS is the first thing that catches readers’ attention. Include the following details in your postscript:
- Gift and Bonus
Or anything else you wish to highlight relevant to your organization.
10. Read your letter multiple times and test it
Read your letter multiple times, till you feel there is no scope of any further improvement. Also, to make sure your letter is response-worthy, test it through direct mail first. You can consider using testing teasers on your envelope and check if you get the required response. If yes, then your test is statistically valid.
11. Be consistent with your emails
If your letter appears only once a year or 6 months, then you may not receive the desired result. Consistency is a must to produce better results.
Your letter needs to be donor-centric, if you communicate less frequently, then they may feel “sold” by your non-profit organization. However, if you are regular with your communication, then the donors will whole-heartedly respond to your mail and take relevant action.
12. Boast less, ask more
Your letter is not a letter to the prospects. Make sure to not include any points that seem like you are boasting about your organization’s achievements, rather speak your mission and what you want your readers to do.
13. Express your Gratitude
Summarize your past work and express your thankfulness to the readers. Show how proud you are to successfully carry out the work with the help of the donors and wish to progress in a similar manner in the coming future through their generous donations.
14. Clearly State your Needs
Your fund-raising letter is all about raising funds to support your organization. So, remember to include the following key points:
- Your mission
- Past accomplishments
- Statistics (not recommended, but still mention them if needed)
- Future targets
- What do you want from readers? Say it, don’t hesitate.
- Ask them to donate money. You might not receive it, but you must state your needs as urgency.
15. Be creative, but not childish
You must be already sending plenty of letters to your readers every year or months after months and receiving a huge response. Yet to maintain that efficiency and reach more potential donors, try some creative approach. Use emotions and futuristic approach. The need and mission of every organization change with time and worldly circumstances, even if it’s a non-profit organization, keep yourself up-to-date with the latest situations and problems.
16. Give it an Eye-Catching Design
Design your letter within a border and leave white spaces to highlight the important text. Use photos and instead of delivering them tons of long paragraphs, use numbers or bullet letters to show key points. Also, bold the important words and lines.
If you are sending a physical copy, then enclose it within a white or brown envelope (commonly used colors) or any other color describing your organization. Use photos, if needed, to make the reader aware of what he/she is going to read about in the letter.
17. Ask for Feedback
Engage your readers with your letter by asking them to provide their valuable feedback. You can request them to reply to your email or ask them to provide feedback on your social media pages.
18. Address Common Questions
It is obvious that people may have some general questions to ask you, state these questions in advance along with the answers. This will leave no chance for them to doubt or raise any complaint.
19. Use Facts and Figures
Though not a very important addition, you can use it if you are trying to show how much you have succeeded in your mission with the help of people’s donations.
20. Know your audience
You must be very well aware of your audience’s demographics and personal taste. This will make your work easier to deliver personalized letters to different readers, which they can relate to more closely and then, act accordingly.
21. Choose your mailing list wisely
Generate a mailing strategy and then group those people who regularly replies to your mail in one list and those in the second list, who rarely responds to your letters or not at all check your letter. Analyze the possible solutions to persuade the second list users to check your mail and take relevant actions.
22. Do not forget the landing page
In lure of perfecting your letter, do not forget to give a nice design to your online landing page, where donors can make some donations to your organizations. Creating a page is pretty easy or you can also hire a temporary website expert.
Finally, make sure the letter is signed by the senior in charge of the organization.
That’s all with how to devise an appealing annual fundraising letter to support for your organization.
Thank you for reading!