Fundraising experts say that asking for donations can be one of the most effective ways to raise money for non-profit groups, but it’s not always easy to approach people face-to-face or even on the phone. This discomfort can be avoided, however, with a heartfelt letter to people who share your values and vision.

Fundraising letters are one of the easiest and least expensive ways to raise money. Most of the costs involved are for paper, envelopes and stamps, so your group can keep almost the entire donation.

You may not want to write your letters in Latin 😉

Tips for effective fundraising letters:

  1. Address each letter personally.  Don’t use a generic greeting such as “Dear Friend”. A greeting like that shows that they’re just one of the crowd and not a friend at all.
  2. Make your case. Appeal to your donor’s emotions by showing why donations are needed today and what happens if the donations are not received.
  3. Explain in direct, easy-to-understand terms how the donor’s gift will be put to use today to help your worthy cause.
  4. Make it easy for your donors to send money by including a self-addressed stamped envelope and a credit card form.
  5. Suggest values.  Rather than simply asking for a donation, include predetermined values that can be chosen by the donor.
  6. Add a viral element by asking the donor for names of people who may also be interested in helping your cause and request permission to send them a letter on his or her behalf.

Split test your letters

If you’re going to send out a lot of fundraising letters and you anticipate doing more fundraising in the future, do as the direct marketers do: split test your letters by creating two different versions and keep track of where each letter was sent. This way, when the donations come in, you can determine which donation letter was more effective.  Do this each time you send a letter out and your response will get better and better.

Send a donation thank you letter

This is very important. Show your appreciation and make future donations more likely by sending a personalized thank you letter to each donor the same day you receive their donation.  People want to be acknowledged and appreciated for their generosity.