How to Write a Direct Mail Fundraising Letter (Four Tips)

Aug 1 11:21 2005 Alan Sharpe Print This Article

How to Write a Direct Mail Fundraising Letter (Four Tips)

1. Address your reader as a friend,Guest Posting not as “Friend.”

When was the last time you received a letter from someone dear to you, addressing you as “Dear Friend?” Never, right? The days of the Dear Friend letter are dead. I heard recently of a chairman of the board of a national charity who has given his charity millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of his time, yet he still receives fundraising appeals from this charity addressing him as “Dear Friend.” Ouch.

2. Arrest attention with an opening that resonates with your
donors.


Assume your reader is standing over a trash can with a stack of today’s mail, reading the opening sentence of each letter before deciding its fate. You have only a few seconds to grab the reader’s interest. So make it a zinger. Here are two openings for the same non-profit. Which one grabs your attention and makes you want to read on?

Opening 1: “I am writing to you to ask if you would like to support a low-income housing building project in your neighbourhood.”


Opening 2: “If I invited you to walk over to your neighbour’s house with a bundle of roof shingles under your
arm as a gift, what would you do?”


3. Put flesh and bones on your need.

One truth in fundraising is that people give to people to help people. So always describe your need in terms of
people, not programs, not ministry, not money.

INSTEAD OF SAYING . . . We operate three vans.

SAY . . . The three vans that we use for emergency medical relief play a vital role in saving lives throughout the year.

INSTEAD OF SAYING . . . Essential medicines in many countries are not affordable.

SAY . . . Phillip Mbago is dying from a treatable disease for no other reason than this—he can’t afford his cure.

4. Ask for funds by painting a picture.

Don’t just ask for a donation. Show your readers how their donations will make a difference. Instead of saying, “Send a gift today,” say, “Your gift to Habitat for Humanity today means that another family will soon move into a simple, decent, affordable home—thanks to you.”

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About Article Author

Alan Sharpe
Alan Sharpe

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alan Sharpe is a direct mail fundraising copywriter who helps nonprofits attract and retain donors using fundraising letters and newsletters. Learn more about his services and sign up for free weekly tips like this at www.sharpecopy.com/newsletter.

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