When running a fundraiser, effectively reaching out to your potential donors is key to raising as much money as possible. Sending out letters via the post or emails to your donor list is a key component of this outreach.
Sending out emails is the easiest and most efficient method. If you are writing physical letters, these tips will still apply.
Even if you’re running a fundraising event and you’re needing non-monetary donations, you may still want to write a compelling letter to potential donors, so the principles outlined here are equally valid.
- Keep it super simple
Organize your fundraising letter into 4 short paragraphs. Make sure you include:
- What you’re fundraising for
- How much you’re looking to raise
- How their donations will make a difference
- How the donor can get involved or make a donation
- Use these topics as headlines to grab attention.
- Ask for donations
Don’t be afraid to ask for donations. It can be tempting to use indirect terms such as “support” and “financial assistance” when writing your letter. If you need money, ask for it! For example: “We are looking to raise $1200 to purchase new uniforms for our little league team. Would you please donate $25 our fundraiser? Every dollar adds up, and with enough support we’ll be able to purchase new uniforms for the whole team!”
- Write in the first person
Writing in the first person means that you are writing from your point of view. It is the most natural way for us to share a story. This is key to connecting with your donors on a personal level. As such, use sentences such as: “I’d like to tell you about my youth group and the cool things we are doing in the community,” and “We could really use your help in reaching our funding goals.” Remember, you aren’t writing a sales pitch. You’re asking for help.
- Create a story
Behind every fundraiser, there is a good story. Stories are a powerful way to move people to action. Begin your donation letter or email with an anecdote from your own experience or a story that you’ve heard related to your fundraiser. For example: “When I was growing up, my father was never around. I walked home every day to an empty house, and often went to bed without ever seeing my mother. Since she worked two jobs, she rarely had time to do any shopping. It wasn’t uncommon to find there wasn’t a single thing to eat in our fridge. Today, I am trying to make a difference in the lives of children experiencing similar hardship resulting from a broken home. That is why I am fundraising for… “
- Address close friends and family by name
You might have a large email list which includes both personal and professional contacts. Separate close friends, family, or people you know well. Contact these people individually, addressing each one by name. This is more personal and effective than a generalized letter.
- In emails, use the “BCC” function
This stands for “Blind Carbon Copy”. It’s a way to send an email message without revealing the recipient’s email addresses to others. A person’s email address is a private thing. Make sure you “BCC” everyone you contact.
- Use “P.S.” for skimmers
Many people will skim over your letter. Summarize your fundraiser in one super simple sentence at the bottom of your email. If you’re running an online fundraiser, include a link to your fundraising page at the bottom. For example: “P.S. I’m raising money for cancer research. You can help me by donating here, [include link].”
- Be specific
Don’t use vague language such as “Your donation will help us reach our goals”. Be specific about how they’re donation will make a difference. For example: “A $25 donation will supply food for a student for 2 full days on our mission trip.”
- Be persistent
Not everyone will donate to your cause after the first request. Don’t lose heart. Keep your contacts updated on your progress each week. People will donate over time if you are diligent and persevering.
- Be yourself
Write with your own personal voice. Avoid fancy language. Keep it simple and sincere. The most compelling appeal is written using simplistic language straight from the heart.
Remember, fundraising is a marathon, not a sprint! Continue promoting your cause through multiple emails and physical mailings. If you are persistent, there is no reason you won’t reach your goals. Good luck!
Article written by Vanessa Stewart at MicroGiving.com. MicroGiving.com is an online fundraising site that lets you raise money for anything. Create a free personal fundraising page and use our ‘share’ tools to promote your fundraiser to friends, family, and strangers across social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Click here to sign up for a free personal fundraising page.