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5 Writing Tips for Successful Fundraising

Black and white photo of a child's small hands holding a heart-shaped object, maybe a foil-covered heart-shaped chocolate.
Tell potential donors how their gifts will be greatly appreciated by those in need. (Photo: Nophamon Yanyapong)

Nobody likes asking for money.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a loan from a friend, a donation for a charity, or startup capital for a new company—it can make both parties feel uncomfortable.

That’s why fundraising can be tricky.

However, there’s also an art to it. And once you understand it, fundraising is a lot less intimidating. In fact, it can even be fun.

By following these five tips, you can become more effective at writing successful fundraising appeals.

1. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is important in any kind of writing, whether it’s a novel, an advertisement, or a magazine article.

For some reason, though, people forget about this in fundraising. In order to run a successful campaign, you have to know the motivations of your readers. Otherwise, you won’t be able to reach them on a human level, which means you won’t be able to persuade them.

Here are a couple of helpful questions to start with:

  • Why would they be willing to give you money?
  • What might cause them to lose interest or enthusiasm?

2. Tell a Good Story

Now that you know who your audience members are, you can start to craft a story that will resonate with them. All of us love a good story.

Unfortunately, many organizations think this doesn’t apply to them. They think stories are only for books and movies, but that’s not true—behind every organization there’s a story.

One of the best ways to do this is by focusing on the human side of your charity, nonprofit, or company. You can do this by writing about the organization’s vision and why you’re raising money in the first place.

Or you can take another approach and write from the perspective of someone else. For example, if you’re a nonprofit fighting homelessness, you can tell a personal story about how last year’s fundraiser helped a family in need.

Don’t Miss: How to Make Your Writing Inspirational

Photo of woman leaning over to look at a computer screen, with a pen in her mouth.
We all love a good story, so tell a personal story in your letter. (Photo: William Perugini)

3. Be Tactful Yet Persuasive

Few people will give money to any organization that doesn’t come across as professional and respectful. That’s why you need to pay attention to the image you’re projecting in your writing.

With that said, it’s also important to persuade readers—after all, you’re asking them for a contribution.

This can sometimes be a difficult balance to strike. Usually, it involves writing in a professional and personal tone while not being aggressive or pushy. This is another reason it’s important to understand your audience because it’ll make it easier to determine the exact approach to use.

Don’t Miss: Best Fundraising Letter Ever? (100% Response Rate)

4. Appeal to Your Readers’ Self-Interest

If you’re raising funds for a business venture, you need to explain what benefits the investors can expect to receive.

The same principle applies to charities and nonprofits, but in a different way since it’s motivated by altruism—so show them how their contributions will be greatly appreciated by those in need.

“Letters should be donor-centric,” says Abby Jarvis of Qgiv, an online fundraising platform. “Make sure your donors know what their donation will go toward and how they can help. The letter isn’t about your organization—it’s about your donors.”

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that donors aren’t making a cost-benefit comparison. They have a limited amount of time, energy, and money to donate to the unlimited amount of noble causes out there. So help them understand the impact they’ll make if they donate to your organization.

Don’t Miss: 4 Awesome (And Effective) Fundraising Letter Templates

5. Let the Reader Know What to Do

Clarity is crucial in fundraising. You could tell a great story that resonates with readers—but if they don’t know what you’re asking them to do, the fundraiser could still fail.

You can avoid this by having a clear call to action. It could be asking them to call a phone number for more information, attend an event, or send in a financial contribution through the mail. It doesn’t have to be aggressive—just don’t leave the reader confused about the next steps.

Here are some actionable tips from Network for Good (quoted directly):

  • Use clear terms to avoid confusion. Focus on verbs like “give” or “donate” instead of fuzzy words like “support.” Use “join” only if you have a membership model.
  • Tie your call to action to the impact of a donation. What will happen if a donor makes a contribution? What will happen if they don’t act?
  • Use deadlines and words like “now” and “today” to remind donors how important it is for them to take action immediately.

Following the general guidelines above can help you write a fundraising letter that gets great results. At Super Copy Editors, we have a wide range of experience with copy editing fundraising materials, including for hospitals and universities, so contact us today if you need help on a similar project.

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Dave Baker

View posts by Dave Baker
Hi, I’m Dave Baker, founder and copy chief of Super Copy Editors. I have more than 25 years of professional proofreading and copy editing experience, including work for The Nation magazine, The New York Times, and The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, where I shared two staff Pulitzer Prizes. At Super Copy Editors, we’re passionate about helping agencies, marketing teams, and education companies refine and polish their text to give them confidence and ensure success. Learn more here.

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