Writing a successful fundraising letter

publication date: Jun 15, 2011
There's no formula for writing effective fundraising appeals. But you know that. Anyone who works as a communicator for a nonprofit organization knows that. Writing is hard work, and what works for one organization may be counterproductive for another.

But there are rules that need to be followed, sometimes to the smallest detail, says author Mal Warwick. In How to Write Successful Fundraising Letters, Warwick shares his tool chest of ideas, gleaned from years of writing and editing thousands of letters in pursuit of philanthropic gifts.

Who should read this book?

  • Anyone who writes fundraising letters for a hospital, a college or university, a museum, a health agency, a human service organization or any other nonprofit that needs funds
  • Individuals who serve in a leadership role for a nonprofit organization; especially executive director, development director, board chair 
  • Those involved in public relations, advertising, or marketing for a nonprofit
  • Anyone who is interested in the potential of fundraising letters that can raise more money for your organization
Motivating your audience

It seems like an impossible task - to write a letter that will convince the recipient to give money away.  Commercial direct marketers generally identify five great motivators that explain response: fear, exclusivity, guilt, greed and anger. Warwick thinks the equation is more complex, and identifies two dozen reasons people might respond to your fundraising letter.  Here is a summary of Warwick's top five:

  1. People send money because you ask them to.  ublic opinion surveys repeatedly confirm this basic fact of donor motivation.  I was asked" is the most frequently cited reason for giving.
  2. People send money because they have money available to give away. The majority of gifts to nonprofits are small contributions made from disposable or discretionary income.
  3. People send money because they're in the habit of sending money by mail.
  4. People send money because they support organizations like yours. Your donors aren't yours alone, no matter what you think. Special interests, hobbies and distinctive beliefs may result in a donor supporting several similar organizations.
  5. People send money because their gifts will make a difference. Your donors are striving to be effective human beings. You help them by demonstrating just how effective they really are.
Purchase your copy of How to Write Successful Fundraising Letters, for just $40.99

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