Is your appeal letter good enough?

make spring appeal better

It’s almost time to deliver your appeal letter to the post office, and your palms are sweating. The economy has been rough, and so much depends on this communication moving your donors to give again. Is your fundraising appeal letter good enough?

Let’s review some techniques to make your appeal letter as compelling as it can be.

Write to one person, from one person. Address the person by name. If you can’t do that, use the singular “Dear Friend” rather than the plural “Dear Friends.” Avoid phrases such as, “Some of you may think.” Instead, use phrases such as, “You may think.” Remember, you’re speaking to only one person at a time. The letter should be signed by only one person, and it should be written in the first person singular (I, not we.)

Tell a good, emotional story. People give based on emotion, so tell your readers a moving story about how you create a positive change in the world. If you care for sick people, tell the story of one person who recovered from illness thanks to your organization. If you give stray dogs a home, help us feel the joy shared by one dog and his new family. If you educate the next generation, introduce us to one student who is happily making her way in the world because of what she learned at your school.

Use design and structure to amplify the message. People skim fundraising letters, so lay out your appeal letter in such a way that they can grasp your message even if they don’t read every word. Tell your reader more than once what you want and why you need it. Have a strong opening paragraph, a strong closing paragraph and a strong P.S. Underline a few important phrases. Use photos that help tell the story and add emotional impact.

Long letters work better. This is true every time. You have the back of your sheet of paper—use it!

Eliminate extra expenses. Brochures seldom help response. Leave them out and save your money.

Get an audit of your appeal package. For a very small investment, you can feel confident that your entire appeal package, from the appeal letter to your mailing list, is optimized. You can apply the results to all your fundraising appeals.

For more information on getting an audit of your appeal letter, or for other expert help on your spring fundraising appeal, contact Fundraising Assets at 1-888-244-4013.

Fundraising Assets helps busy fundraising professionals raise more money, save valuable time and reduce costs. We offer consulting, writing, design and production services for direct mail and e-mail fundraising, social networking and more.


  1. 1


    I love what you said about appeal letters. But long letters work better? It really depends on your demographic. I once got an EIGHT-PAGE LETTER from the league of women voters, and it just daunted me. I tried to read it, but it was seriously a case of TLDR.

    Comment by Mazarine — March 9, 2010 @ 8:05 PM

  2. 2

    Eight pages? Wow! When we say “long,” we mean two pages or sometimes three pages.

    Comment by Connie — March 10, 2010 @ 12:39 PM

  3. 3

    8 pages isn’t too long…if it works :-)

    Letters are getting shorter because of the common (ill-advised) concern that “nobody wants to read a long letter.

    You know how it goes…

    “How long should a letter be?”

    As long as it need to be!


    Comment by Greg Payette — March 13, 2010 @ 5:48 PM

  4. 4

    Thanks, Greg!

    Comment by Connie — March 13, 2010 @ 6:17 PM

  5. 5

    Interesting explanation. I love to read it IMDB

    Comment by Aida Debus — February 19, 2012 @ 6:15 AM

  6. 6

    lão hóa da

    Is your appeal letter good enough?

    Trackback by cach chong lao hoa da mat — July 10, 2018 @ 12:57 PM

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