One of the best ways to raise money for your cause is to create a compelling fundraising letter. While many organizations prefer a digital approach, an actual letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service continues to have value as a tool in the nonprofit fundraiser's tool kit.
Writing a good fundraising letter isn't easy. It requires thought and (you guessed it) a lot of revision. But if you can pull it off, you'll give your organization a chance to help more people than you might have had you limited yourself to email.
So, what's the secret? Read on...
Tell a story. Your fundraising letter should start with a story — one that fully engages your current and potential supporters in 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 lots 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 part of the letter should only be a few sentences long.
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.
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 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.
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. You didn't create the letter to dance around the issue; you created it to raise money to help people in need. Now is not the time for subtlety; now is the time to trumpet your call to action. Emphasize how the reader's donation will change lives, and be sure to tell them that while any amount helps, more is better.
Be humble. No matter how direct your ask, striking a humble and respectful tone throughout will help make current and potential supporters feel valued and important. These days, humility is underrated, but people — especially donors — appreciate and respond to it.
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!
Freddie Tubbs is a communications manager at a UK-based writing service.