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How to Write a Fund Raising Letter

Updated on September 26, 2009

A written request for a contribution to a charity is nothing but a sales letter with a heart tug.

Like a sales letter, the fund-raising letter first arouses the interest of the reader, then convinces the reader of the need for buying the product or service (or making the contribution), next tells how the product or service will help the buyer (or giver), and finally make positive action by the buyer (or contributor) easy. The heart-tugging part is the second step – convincing the reader of the need to give.

Let us follow these steps in order to explain. The opening sentence excites the reader’s interest with an intriguing statement:

Right now, the people best equipped to help runaway kids are pimps.

This phrase is straightforward and suggests a problem of interest to many people, but the surprising last word of the statement snaps the reader awake and arouses his or her curiosity. The reader is eager to read on.

The second step is the heart tugging of capturing the reader’s interest. The reader must be convinced that the cause is good and just and worthy of opening his or her checkbook. Referring again to the phrase how a pimp can help is mentioned, as well as why the kid’s seek anyone’s help. What happens to the kids is described, arousing the sympathy of the reader, who also becomes emotionally involved with the helplessness of the runaways. Here are kids as young as nine, searching for love, but hooked on drugs, selling their bodies, cast off by society, beyond the reach of family or government, helpless in the hands of brutal pimps. Any one of these treatments is reason enough to open the pocketbook of the reader.

The third step in a fund-raising letter is a statement of the benefit for the giver. The community problems of juvenile prostitution and pornography will be alleviated through the organization REFUGE. Most fund-raising letters, including this one, indicate that one of the reader’s benefits will be the personal satisfaction of helping someone in need.

Making positive action by the giver easy is the fourth step. The writer does the chore of deciding how much to give when he or she suggests five or ten dollars. The assumption is that less will be gladly accepted and that more is hoped for. Requests that contributions be mailed in the enclosed envelope and state that the postage is prepaid. Envelopes and stamps are small items, but they can be exasperating inconveniences when not provided. The giving must be made easy.

A positive attitude in the letter promotes a positive attitude in the giver.

Remember the steps:

  1. Start with an interest-arousing first sentence.
  2. Explain convincingly the need for the donation.
  3. Indicate how the giver will benefit.
  4. Make positive action by the giver easy.

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