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Writing Donation Request Letters

By Kimberly Reynolds

Writing a fundraising letter is not that difficult. However, you need to know what works and what doesn't before you invest your time composing your donation request. Fundraising letters have some general rules of thumb:

Keep in mind whenever you are asking for money that you are providing a service.

Tell people what you've done and what you plan to do to achieve progress toward your goals.

Longer letters do better:

a) You can address all concerns and potential concerns

b) There are different kinds of readers - Long letters are OK for all:

- Those that throw unopened envelope away - the length of letter is irrelevant.

- Those that read only beginning and ending - the length of letter is irrelevant.

- Skimmers can pick up more points from a longer letter

- Passionate readers love long letters

Make your fundraising letter compelling:

Paragraphs and bullets should be no more than 3 sentences or items; break longer ones in half.

How to write a fundraising letter:

Good news - Always start the letter with a series of good news bullets to build momentum and make entire letter entertaining and informative.

- Use foreshadowing to tease reader and keep him or her reading.

- Create a "widow" at the end of the first page (a thought that's finished on second page)

- Make your reader turn the page.

Describe what you want to do next

- Tell what you're going to do.

- Why you're going to do it.

- How you're going to do it.

- What results you expect.

List suggested contribution amounts

- Use even numbers in graduated amounts

- Offer a monthly auto charge credit card option ($10 a month is $120 a year)

- Include a blank line for write-in amounts

Remind readers that their contribution is your budget

- Your successes have been possible because of their past contributions

- Thank them!

Use P.S.'s for skimmers

- May titillate skimmers and get them to read the entire letter.

- To create a sense of urgency.

Donation Letter Results

Expect results of $1.50 to $2.00 per letter mailed.

Fundraising letters are easier to produce than newsletters and you can share news and the same information. If you can't do both a newsletter and a fundraising letter, it's better to just do the fundraising letter.

Fundraising letters create a continuity of membership; the more letters you send, the amount per person should go up.

3% to 5% of people every month will respond.

Regular fundraising letters will get people in the habit of giving.

Ask for a monthly pledge (100% of credit card pledges are fulfilled; 70% of others are fulfilled)

Under promise results and over-deliver.

Fundraising Letters - Final Tips

Be yourself - Write with your own personal voice and style.

Make it personal and passionate - That's the only way to really connect with people.

Grab their attention - Put a big, bold headline at the top of your letter stating your case & cause.

About The Author

Kimberly Reynolds writes about fundraisers and advice on writing fundraising letters on her website Sign us for her free monthly newsletter at


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