7 tips for fundraising letters, plus 3 more

Setting out to write a direct mail fundraising letter. Here are some useful guidelines form the Guidestar blog, at Drafting Fundraising Letters: Seven Top Tips:

  1. Start with the P.S. (It’s the most important, most-read part of the letter. Make sure it clearly states the one thing you want to reader to do!)
  2. Think about the appearance. (It should look like a “real” letter. Beyond that, it should look like it came from your organization, not any old business.)
  3. Make sure they’re emotionally compelling. (People give from the heart. If you don’t make an emotional case, you won’t get very many gifts.)
  4. Personalize them. (Donors respond well to their own names and other information from the data, like their city name and how much they’ve given.)
  5. Center them around the donor. (Don’t brag. Don’t educate. Say you a lot. Frame everything in terms of what they donor can do.)
  6. Be direct. (Come right out and ask. Don’t dance around it. And ask several times.)
  7. Don’t forget to include information about other ways to give. Let them give by credit card or by EFT. Show them where they can give online. Include a toll-free phone number they can call to give.

Here are some more:

  • Write the reply coupon for before you write the letter. Know where the letter is trying to send readers.
  • Spend a lot of time on the envelope. If it doesn’t get opened, all your other good work is for nothing!
  • Write the thank you letter at the same time. Make sure you’re thanking donors for the same thing you asked for!


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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