General Copywriting Tips

  • Write your fundraising letters as conversation between two people, not an essay.
  • Think of your writing like you are sending a letter to your mother or your friend.
  • Fundraising letters should be friendly – frequently use "you" and "I", informal language, and contractions.
  • The more donor-centric and personalized the writing, the better.
  • Keep letters at an eighth grade reading level, and avoid using jargon!
  • Create an emotional hook, present the problem, and tell donors how they can make the solution possible.
  • Include the date of their last gift. Most lapsed donors do not realize it has been so long since they last gave. 
  • The amount of a donor's last gift will also help build an individualized gift string. Incorporating giving history personalizes solicitations to reflect the importance of each individual donor.
  • Be sure to thank your donors, and explain how their gifts have made a difference.

Messaging Matters

  • People give to people first (use in acquisition appeals), and then they want to sustain and improve programs (use in renewal letters).
  • Appeals related to true emergencies or crisis brings in more gifts and money than appeals for institutional purposes.
  • Institutional appeals tend to have higher donor retention and higher overall income.
  • Ask for a specific gift amount, by a specific date, for a specific purpose.
  • If you are asking for general funding, show the difference a donor's gifts will make in their community.
  • Being specific lets the donors know what is expected of them.
  • Ask for your donor's support more than one time in the letter.
  • Don’t forget a PS that creates urgency and makes the final ask.

Keep in mind, the reader often only looks at:

  1. Their name and address
  2. Who signed the letter
  3. The PS message

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