Four ways to contend with how to write a fundraising letter

You want to be certain with how to write a fundraising letter, and we've got four sure-fire ways to contend with it.
  • Create a Story: Tell a good story... about ONE person. If you work for an organization, select the "typical" kind of person your agency serves. Think about how that person enters into your work, how they interact with the services and people of the organization, and then explain how they are IMPACTED by the work you do. If you are raising support as an individual, provide a compelling story about your journey. Create a simple outline of the story, and commit to telling it in the most compelling way possible.
  • Build Tension: Create tension. All good stories have some kind of tension needing resolution. Think about the "problem" you or your agency is trying to solve. What would the life of the person or people look like if you are not able to do your work. I suggest you find some quotes from people in the situation you are writing about. Ask them their struggles. Weave those quotes into the life of the ONE person you are committed to writing about. In addition, find good research about your topic. If you are planning on helping the poor, abused, or whomever, make sure you conduct some research and provide some pithy statistics.
  • Emotional Resolve: Resolve the tension. You need to provide some kind of emotional appeal. Do you want your reader to feel sad? Angry? Shocked? Choose your emotion carefully. The resolution will help the reader know what to do with the emotion you created in the story. Be sure to let them know that you or your agency can help with the problem. Include a few quotes from people you have helped -- or if you are just starting, imagine what someone would say if you could help them.
  • Specific Ask: Make one clear ask. If you are providing meals for the poor, state how much a meal costs per person. Don't ask for a meal, and a blanket, and housing, and... just pick ONE thing as a call for action. Break down the costs and associate the numbers with people. In other words, say something like this, "To feed one person, it costs $20 per meal. You can sponsor one meal for $20, a week of meals for $140, one month for $600." Finally, make sure you make the ask urgent. Before the person is done reading the letter, you are asking them to fill out the donation form included with a check. For instance, "Please sit down right now and help end hunger in our community."
PS... here is a BONUS idea for your fundraising letter
  • Add a P.S.: Always include a post script and a handwritten note referencing the money needed. DO NOT SKIP THE HANDWRITTEN NOTE! You will stand out in a very personal way if you personalize your letter. Everyone reads the post script first anyway. Say something like, "Thank you for deciding to end hunger here in your community, we couldn't do what we do without your help."
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