How to write an effective campaign letter

These tips can help you write a letter that gets prospective donors’ attention.

  • Write a letter, not an essay. The longer it is, the less likely people will read it.

    The goals of the mailing are to get the donors’ attention, capture their interest, create a desire to give and ask them to give.
  • Address the letter to a specific person, not “Dear Community Leader” or “Dear Friend of Extension.”
  • Start with good news.
  • Fundraising letters are about people and how people will benefit from the programming.
    • Focus the donation appeal on the benefits from their donation.
    • Tell exactly how the money will be used.
  • Ask for their donation.
    • Ask for money at least twice.
    • Suggest amounts to give.
    • Remind them that contributors are key to success.
    • Tell them what action you want them to take — give now!
  • Always let them know the urgency of the need for their donation. Ask them to give now.
    • Send the whole package:
    • Appeal letter
    • Response form
    • Self-addressed return envelope for mailing donation
    • Website address for those who want to give electronically
  • Always include a postscript. The P.S. is the most-often-read part of a letter. Restate the goal of the work and ask again for support.
  • Test the mailing on a few people who haven’t worked with the development campaign and ask for their impressions.
  • Be sure to proofread. Ask at least two people who didn’t write the materials to proofread them before printing. Don’t rely on your computer program’s spelling checker alone.

Community Development Specialist Larry Dickerson and Director of Donor Education Cynthia Crawford in cooperation with Development Director Cat Comley, 2013.