Fundraising letters that get out of the mailbox!In writing up a project for a client, I drafted this short reminder on how to write effective fundraising letters.

What else would you add?

  • The letter is personalized

    “Dear Friend” doesn’t cut it. Studies show the first thing people look for is their address is at the top of the page and their name(s) in the salutation. Not having those increases the chances the letter will be tossed without being read.

  • There is an effective P.S.

    Studies consistently show that the second thing people look at is the P.S. So craft a postscript with

    1. What you’re asking people to give to
    2. How much you’re asking them to give
    3. And a deadline for when that gift should be given
  • The ask is upfront

    It’s a fundraising letter so don’t put lots of “the weather here is such & such.” Get to the ask as quickly as possible.

  • Some bolded lines, headlines, underlines, or italics

    Don’t overdo it, but help your reader skim the letter. Chances are they aren’t going to read it word for word. I’d experiment to see what works best for your donors. I happen to like a few bolded lines (usually stating the need) and a few lines in italics (usually asking for their commitment/gift). But some people like handwritten-like underlines or graphics. Test it out and use whatever works best

  • Lots of white space and big font

    Resist the temptation to fit as much text on a page as possible. That just looks like a grey box to most readers. Allow for wide enough margins and no font less than a 12 point. Older eyes will thank you. Another way of making this easier to read is to avoid “justified” text. Most find text aligned to the left easier to read.

These should be sent at least 3-4 times a year. The good thing is, the letters don’t need to be radically different. Test some variations and then use the one that gives you the best response. You will remember what you sent three months before, but most donors won’t. Repeating the story will help them remember the story.

I can already see one thing I missed. Can you see it? And what would you add?

Tell us in the comments!

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