How to Write a Fundraising Letter (4 Tips).
By Alan Sharpe
1. Address your reader as a friend, not as ìFriend.î When was the last time you received a letter from someone dear to you, addressing you as ìDear Friend?î Never, right? The days of the Dear Friend letter are dead. I heard recently of a chairman of the board of a national charity who has given his charity millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of his time, yet he still receives fundraising appeals from this charity addressing him as ìDear Friend.î Ouch.
2. Arrest attention with an opening that resonates with your donors. Assume your reader is standing over a trash can with a stack of todayís mail, reading the opening sentence of each letter before deciding its fate. You have only a few seconds to grab the readerís interest. So make it a zinger. Here are two openings for the same non-profit. Which one grabs your attention and makes you want to read on?
Opening 1: ìI am writing to you to ask if you would like to support a low-income housing building project in your neighbourhood.î Opening 2: ìIf I invited you to walk over to your neighbourís house with a bundle of roof shingles under your arm as a gift, what would you do?î
3. Put flesh and bones on your need. One truth in fundraising is that people give to people to help people. So always describe your need in terms of people, not programs, not ministry, not money.
INSTEAD OF SAYING . . . We operate three vans. SAY . . . The three vans that we use for emergency medical relief play a vital role in saving lives throughout the year. INSTEAD OF SAYING . . . Essential medicines in many countries are not affordable. SAY . . . Phillip Mbago is dying from a treatable disease for no other reason than thisóhe canít afford his cure.
4. Ask for funds by painting a picture. Donít just ask for a donation. Show your readers how their donations will make a difference. Instead of saying, ìSend a gift today,î say, ìYour gift to Habitat for Humanity today means that another family will soon move into a simple, decent, affordable homeóthanks to you.î
About the Author Alan Sharpe is a professional fundraising letter writer, instructor, mentor, author and newsletter publisher. Alan helps non-profit organizations worldwide to raise funds, build relationships and retain loyal donors using cost-effective, compelling, creative fundraising letters. Receive free tips like this each week by signing up for Raiser Sharpe Focus.
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