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Fundraising Letters


Do you use fundraising letters to promote your fundraising events? Should you? When all is considered, fundraising letters do mean that you have have to pay for the postage, as well as for the printing, or at the least the paper and the ink for the printer, but it can be a worthwhile thing to do. A well written fundraising letter can bring in some sizable donations, if you remember a few things. Some of the best letters appeal to the emotions of potential donors, and explaining just how much their donation will help, and what it will help accomplish will help your cause. For more information on this, take a look at the letters in the Free Fundraising eBook.

 

Fundraising Letter Campaigns Tips for Success
by: Kimberly Lewis

A fundraising letter is used as part of direct mail campaigns to solicit donations for your organization. In order to get the highest return on your investment, you should selectively target people who are likely to be sympathetic to your cause. Having an up-to-date address list of your current donors is critical as is understanding where to find your "new" donors. If you want to go beyond your existing donor base, consider purchasing an address list from a company that compiles such information based on demographic data and other criteria.

Since you are not offering a product or service in exchange for the donation, the benefit to your donor is the nice, warm feeling he gets from helping a cause that is meaningful to him. The entire appeal is emotional and the secret to tapping in to those emotions lies in a crafting a good fundraising letter. If you have the funds available, I suggest hiring a professional copywriter to design your mailer for you. If your budget it too constrained to allow this, then search the web for free fundraising sample letters. Use them as a template and apply the techniques discussed in this article to make your letter a compelling "call to action".

There is a science to writing good fundraising letters that goes beyond just phrasing things well there is a certain psychology involved too and a mastery of both elements is necessary to have a successful fundraising letter campaign. All too often, fundraising letters end up lying unopened in the recycling bin because they were discarded as junk mail. But there are certain tricks of the trade that can help. Including "teaser copy" on the outside of the envelope is especially effective in urging people to read your message. The envelope copy can be clever and catchy or something as simple as "We need your help."


Once you've gotten your prospective donor to open the letter, you need to make your point quickly since you will probably not have his attention for very long. Start with a statement that tugs at the heartstrings, then state who you are, what the problem is, and how you will solve it if you get the funding you need.

Keep in mind that the goal of your letter is to spur the person reading it to take action. This is more likely to happen if you give a clear idea of what you want. Don't be shy - ask outright for a monetary contribution but don't forget to include some scalable guidelines. "Your gift of $150 will provide all the initial medical care including sterilization for one animal. A mere $35 will enable us to feed and care for one animal for one month." In this model, you would get some donations of $150 and several of at least $35 each.

In fundraising, timing is critical and people are most likely to respond if they feel a sense of urgency. Create the need for their immediate response in your letter! "In order for the band to participate in this historic event, we need to pay for the airfare and lodging by March 31st. Please take a moment and send your donation today."

You will receive more replies to your letter if you include a reply postcard and envelope. Remove any doubt about how to donate by making it crystal clear. "Just check the box on the reply card and mail it with your check in the enclosed, postage paid reply envelope." This may seem a little elementary to you, but it is a technique that has been proven to work - people are more likely to respond to clear instructions.

Finally, don't underestimate the power of the post script. Most people will not read the entire letter, but the post script will stand out. Your post script should summarize the letter and urge the reader to take action. "P.S. In the time it took you to read this letter, another three people died unnecessarily in house fires. Please take the time to send your donation to Firesafe Foundation today."

Ultimately the success of a fundraising letter depends on the emotional appeal of your letter and the quality of your address list. Put the bulk of your effort into these two items, and you should have a big success on your hands.

About the Author
Kimberly Lewis is a former corporate executive and active volunteer who has been involved in many fundraising activities for non-profits, from small projects to black tie events. For more information and ideas for fundraising, please visit the
Fundraising Ideas Center.




 

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