Tips for Writing Successful Fundraising Sales Letters

Here are some tips from Deborah Block and Paul Karps (partners in BK Kreative and associates of fundraising guru Mal Warwick) for gaining a competitive advantage in direct mail fundraising.

  1. Write your copy from the donor's point of view. Tell her what the organization is doing to better lives – including those of its supporters. Remember at all times that direct mail fundraising is not about the charity … it's about the donor.

  2. Emphasize how the organization plays a premier role in a particular realm of the nonprofit universe. If the organization is Number One or the best in something – or does work no one else does – don't be afraid to say so. Identify it as "the preeminent national (or regional/state/local) leader." Think that may be stretching the truth a bit? Here's a subtle suggestion: Replace "the" with "a."

  3. Play up the charity's skill and know-how. If, for example, the organization was founded 110 years ago, clearly mention its long history of success. Explain that, over the years, it's "done the job again and again." And now, it's this experience and expertise that uniquely qualifies the organization to solve the problem or to face the challenge ahead.

  4. Emphasize the scope of the organization – as in "with field offices in 38 countries around the world, we're in a unique position to …"

  5. Take credit for the charity's good work. If it is part of a coalition – and if it's accurate to state – highlight its central role in the endeavor. It might be "leading a broad coalition of like-minded groups." You can take a similar tack by referring to coalition members as your "partners" or "allies."

    But, at all cost, try to avoid specifically mentioning any other organization by name. All you're doing is inviting the reader to give her money to that group – and not yours.

  6. To give your copy authenticity and a genuine touch, get background information about the signer, including a personal reference.

Source: Successful Fundraising Online, August 2002. Visit:

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Published: September 9, 2002

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