How to Craft a Great Nonprofit Fundraising Letter or Email

May 26, 2021Nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations will always rely on the generosity of funders, donors, and patrons who support their cause. Yet asking for donations (or ‘gifts’ as they are sometimes called), is an uncomfortable but necessary part of the process, especially when staff, volunteers, and even the individuals you serve may rely heavily on outside financial support. How can you make sure that your organization not only acquires the fundraising it needs but also stands out among the many non-profit organizations out there also vying for support? 


Here are some tips to ensure that your next fundraising letter or email hits the mark and makes an impact.

  1. Get personal. If you know the recipient’s name, don’t be afraid to use it in addressing your message. It makes the individual feel that a little effort was made on your behalf to find their name and that they don’t just feel like a faceless number being asked for a donation. And don’t forget to thank a previous donor after you’ve addressed them. A little personal touch can go a long way. 
  2. Empathy first. Every organization has a story of how and why it was founded. But what’s your story and how is it special? Don’t be afraid to use empathy to strike a chord among your readers by giving details of how, for example, the work your staff does makes a difference in the everyday lives of individuals they serve. This part of the letter doesn’t have to be lengthy but could include some facts and some quantitative data to help consolidate the impactful work you do. Try and stay positive in this section and don’t get too heavy on the drama. This starting point is a great segue onto the next part of your letter- why you are writing this message in the first place. 
  3. Get to the point. Now is the time to explain why your organization could benefit from financial support. State your case simply, e.g. your organization, like so many others during the pandemic, had to quickly adapt to the circumstances despite the decrease in staff numbers and the significant increase in client demands, etc. Emphasize the urgency of why help is needed now and how, with the generous support of the donor, conditions could really turn around. 
  4. State the amount. Asking for help, in any circumstance, is not always easy nor a comfortable feat. Asking for a donation can seem easier because it’s not face to face, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be any less direct. Asking for a vague sum of money without giving much detail as to what it will be put toward isn’t a constructive approach, nor will it result in an abundance of generosity. Listing amounts and giving concrete details of results that can be obtained is a far better method of getting your prospective donor to take heed of the situation and, hopefully, take action. If you aren’t able to give precise results to particular amounts, try and explain where the donations will be going at least i.e. toward staff expenses, transportation costs, etc. 
  5. And lastly, show thanks. All too often businesses these days can come across as formal and impersonal with a wall of jargon to hide behind. This is where non-profit organizations can stand out. Striking a balance between a respectful, friendly tone and gratitude is possible if you remember to always graciously thank the organization for reading your letter and even considering offering a donation. Try to offer direct contact information, so that you come across as approachable and accessible and offer up help, in case they have further questions or queries. 

All these tactics are easy to incorporate into any fundraising letter or email and have the potential for non-profit organizations to build long-lasting relationships with their funders and donors. If you don’t have the capacity to construct such a letter or just would like some advice on how to start, feel free to contact us at Redstart Creative and we’ll be happy to provide you with some expert guidance. If you would like more amazing marketing tips for your nonprofit, check our Ultimate Marketing Guides.


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