I’ve worked with many charities over the years ranging from animal protection to child welfare, and sight and hearing loss. Each charity has its fundraising challenges, but all have the same goal – to engage donors with their stories and campaigns and hit their fundraising targets.
This is vital to their work as without funding they can’t deliver their life saving/life-enhancing work for the benefit of those they exist to support.
In this article, I’ll take you through how to write a donation request letter and how to harness the power of emotion to make it a success.
What are fundraising letters?
Fundraising letters are letters sent to existing or potential donors (individual donors and businesses or organizations) to engage with the potential supporter and explain the details of the situation/plight to secure a donation.
What are the key elements of any good fundraising letter
Writing a good fundraising letter consists of many of the same basic principles as a direct marketing letter but with a much softer, more empathic approach. It is still headline-driven, informative, engaging and impactful with a strong CTA (Call To Action), but written with feeling, building an emotional connection.
- Think About Your Audience and Make it Personal
Existing donors and supporters tend to have an emotive link with a charity. Most people select a charity to donate to based on a personal connection, for example, if it’s an animal charity, many will have donated as they love animals, and probably have or have lost a much-loved pet.
Respect this depth of feeling, address the recipient by name and appeal to them directly.
- Tell an Engaging Story
Nothing is more powerful than a real-life story. Use a suitable case study to explain the issue your charity aims to solve. Tell the story giving details about the plight of the people/animals you’re trying to help face and what the funds would mean to them, so the donor can see how they’re making a difference.
- Keep it Donor-Centric
Your donors need to be at the heart of everything you do. They are the lifeblood of your charity work and you are unable to achieve your goals without their support. Be clear about your goals, and explain how their donations will be used, who will benefit from them, and how.
Once you have the donor’s support YOU MUST stay in touch with updates on how their contribution is having an impact and always remember to thank them.
- Quantify the Amount Needed
Donors want to know how their donation will make a difference. Now you’ve explained the issue and told the story, you need to show how they can be part of the solution and include a CTA (Call To Action).
For example, you could specify that a donation of $60 could help to buy a clean water tank for a school or $15 would provide food and shelter for a rescue dog for a week.
Single donations offer amazing support, but if you are providing ongoing charitable services rather than collecting for a one-off project, then you need to try and encourage the donor to commit to regular donations.
Regular donations help you to forecast your income to maintain and plan your good work for the future. For example, donate just $5 per month and you could support a child’s education, providing essential books, stationery and teaching aids.
Make sure your CTA is clear and simple. Offer suitable, easy payment and sign-up methods, by phone, online etc.
- Make it Easy to Read
Keep it simple and to the point. Use clear, impactful headlines and engaging copy that tells the story explains the problem and puts the potential donor at the heart of the solution.
Clearly outline the amount/s you are seeking and exactly how those funds change lives. Then offer easy payment options that make it easy to give.
- Closing Remarks and an impactful P.S
Last but certainly not least, use your closing remarks to reinforce the plight, how their donation makes a difference.
For example, we’re here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, helping the dogs and cats that desperately need our care. But we can’t do it alone. Your donation will ensure we can continue to be a safe haven for dogs like “George” (use the name of the person/animal in your story) and with your help – give them the life they deserve.
You can then add a P.S. such as, sign up to become a regular donor and we will add your name to our special donors’ wall at the shelter. If you are donating in memory of someone special or beloved pet, we also have a beautiful remembrance garden, where you can have a personalised memorial plaque in their name.
Now you have the basic structure and tips to create an emotive, impactful fundraising letter that can achieve your goals. Good luck in your endeavours and once you have your donations, don’t forget to update and thank your supporters
What legal requirements or code of practice do I need to follow when sending a fundraising letter?
Charities need to take great care with their communications. There is an ethical, and in many countries, a legal obligation to ensure that all communications are appropriate to the audience and provide clear information so donors can make an informed decision and have an easy opt-out process.
You must ensure all fundraising communications over the phone, by post, email or messages to mobile devices adhere to the rules in place for the given country in which you are operating.