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How to Write a More Persuasive and Effective Fundraising Letter

Online fundraising is one of the fastest growing marketing channels for organizations and non-profits.

Emails, organic website traffic, and fundraising websites have helped organizations raise billions of donations. However, all that traffic only accounts for a fraction of the total dollar amount given annually.

The Blackbaud Institute performed a charitable giving survey in 2017. They found that anywhere from 6-12% of all fundraising comes from online channels. While that may seem like a huge number, it means that 88-94% of fundraising is still done offline.

The survey also found that first-time offline donors are a bit stickier. 31% of offline donors will retain whereas only 25% of new online donors will do the same. Another study supports the findings of the Blackbaud Institute that fundraising via direct mail still works exceptionally well.

Direct mail and fundraising go hand-in-hand, and thanks to the internet there is less competition for people’s physical mailbox than ever. While most organizations and non-profits are focusing their marketing budgets on online, the smart ones are taking advantage of the direct mail and drawing in donations by the billions.

Here are five tips that will show you how to write the perfect fundraising letter:

1. Match Request to Donor

Instead of sending out a chain letter where every recipient will receive the same message, try customizing the message to the donor.  Segment your donor list into buckets based upon past amounts given. Then write a custom letter that will ask for the same number or more based on previous giving.

Thanks to variable data printing, you can have a unique letter or envelope printed for each donor. This will enable you to quickly match requests to donors without any additional effort.

2.  Longer is Better

You should aim for at least a 2-page donation letter. Three, four, and five pages will work even better. A single page donation letter doesn’t perform as well as a multi-page one. It’s not understood exactly why, but longer is better.

3.  The Donor is #1

Some non-profits or organizations will make the letter all about themselves. The letters often read like an autobiography of just how great they are and how many people they’ve helped over the past year.

People tend to be somewhat self-centered so make the letter about them – not you. Using such “power words” as “you” can make a significant persuasive impact. Studies have shown that charitable giving activates pleasure receptors in the human brain. Make your donors the focus of the fundraising letter and watch your response rate climb.

4.  Ask, Ask, and Ask Again

If the potential donor has opened the letter and started to read it, you’ve got their undivided attention. Many fundraising experts suggest that you ask for a donation repeatedly throughout the message. For example, if you have 8 sub-headers in your letter, you should be asking for a donation eight times at the end of each subhead.

Including a P.S. at the close of the letter that restates the donation request and call-to-action can increase the response rate significantly. This is why multi-page donation letters tend to work much better than single page ones.

5. Fix Your Website

Many donors have stated that a direct mail letter was the driving force that caused them to make an online donation. If your website is slow, antiquated, or doesn’t offer a way to donate, you could be losing out on a lot of donations.

A professionally designed website can not only help increase donations but can grow your marketing list if you add a form to capture people’s personal information and mailing addresses.

If your target demographic is Millennials or Gen X, then be sure to include a way to reach out and contact you via Social Media.

Fundraising Printing in Raleigh

If you need help designing, copywriting, or printing your next (or first) sales letter, let AlphaGraphics of Downtown Raleigh offer you the benefit of our decades of experience. We’ve helped countless non-profits and charitable groups with their printing needs and know what works best.

To learn more about how AlphaGraphics of Downtown Raleigh can produce and design your next project, you may email us or request a quote or call us at (919) 832-2828.

Mike Linden

Posted by Mike Linden

Mike Linden is the Vice President of Operations at AlphaGraphics of Downtown Raleigh. He focuses on client relationships, daily operations, business development and digital marketing initiatives. Mike joined the firm in 2008.

Mike is a graduate of the University of North Carolina where he earned a degree in Economics.