DIYFundraising Donation Widget

Your Fundraising Letter: Make it or Break it

It’s just about fundraising season! And that means it’s time to get a fundraising letter in the mail.

Before you get started, I wanted to share with you how to make your fundraising letter successful. I’ve seen folks spend hours and hours carefully editing their fundraising letter then get frustrated when it doesn’t give them the results they want. To help you avoid that same fate, consider these factors of your appeal’s success.

The List (40%) – The list you use to mail to will make or break your appeal. After all, if you don’t mail to the right people, it doesn’t matter how good your letter is. And don’t just buy a zip code list from the affluent section of town.  People must care about your cause and be willing to respond through the mail in order to be good candidates for your direct mail appeal.

The Offer (20%) – The Ask that you make in your appeal, or your offer, will play a large part in the overall success of your appeal. Make it easy to understand, tangible, and realistic. A good offer is something like “Your gift of $23 will help us provide hot meals for a home-bound senior for a month.”

Timing (20%) – When your letter goes into the mail also plays a large part in the success of your appeal. Some months are proven to be better for mailing than others. Also think about what else you have going in the mail, like special event invitations or newsletters, and what else is happening in your community (don’t mail the same time as the United Way kickoff or some other large nonprofit activity).

The Package (10%) – The package is the envelope and all its contents as it arrives in the recipient’s mailbox. You have about 2 seconds to get the envelope opened, and how the pieces look at first glance can determine whether they get a closer look or go straight to the trash.

The Letter (10%) – The actual letter of your appeal accounts for a small part of the overall success of your appeal. No  doubt it’s important to have a well-crafted letter, but don’t spend ALL your time on this one piece.

Want more help with your fundraising letter?  Check out my book “7 Essential Steps to Raising Money by Mail.”

Article by:  Sandy Rees

Sandy Rees, CFRE, is a coach, consultant, and trainer who shows small nonprofit organizations how to raise more money and grow their Boards. For free tips on how to raise all the money your organization needs, visit

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