The Right Words: Five Tips for Effective Fundraising Letters  

Whether you choose to use your prose via dynamic website content, a targeted email campaign or simply the classic mailed correspondence, what you write in your fundraising campaign letter can make a huge difference in how it’s received. Does it strike the correct tone in describing your mission or cause? Are you using certain phrases that detract from your message? Are there keywords missing that are proven to garner results? All good questions you should consider before drafting your next appeal.

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When it comes time to make your pitch in words, consider these five tips culled from the minds of successful non-profit fundraising professionals.

1. Keep it Personal
Expert letter writers agree that one of the keys to making the reader feel as if you’re speaking directly to them is to utilize the words “I” and “You” when addressing your charity’s goals. These pronouns convey the personal tone you want to set, and gives a human touch that’s engaging.

2. Show the Benefits
Whether it’s a prize, a free giveaway, an invite to a special event or just the good feeling that comes with helping others, donors often thrive on the benefits of giving. So when you craft your letter, don’t dwell on only the needs of your non-profit—tout the tangible upside a donor can expect by supporting your organization.

3. Ask for Money
Too often, non-profits tiptoe around the uncomfortable task of asking for monetary donations directly, and instead couch their letters with a general call for “support.” Experts stress that being clear in what you want—and repeating that call in different variations throughout the letter—achieves more success that being vague.

4. Make Reading Easy
A letter filled with complex words and closely grouped lines of text is more likely to be discarded before the reader makes it to the end. So keep your copy roomy by indenting paragraphs and keeping them to less than seven lines long. Also, use bullets and subheaders to break up the content and don’t be afraid to bold, underline or italicize key words and phrases.

5. Make Your Case
When it comes to web copy, designers of non-profit sites stress that less is more. However, when it comes to the “ask letter” go as long as you need to ensure that you get your point across. Some people will simply give it a quick perusal and others will digest the whole thing from start to finish, but presenting all the information you need to convey is a much better tactic than not presenting enough. And if you use the aforementioned tips for making it easy to read, the length of the letter won’t matter than much anyway.

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