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Friday, February 4, 2011

Tips on writing a successful appeal letter

We all get them, appeal letters from non-profit organizations you support, or your alma mater and they are all asking you to reach into your pocket and help them with the funds they need to carry on with their mission. But with so many letters being sent to donors, how can you make sure that yours gets the results you are looking for?

There's no sure fire solution - but there are some tried and true methods that, if you follow, will increase the likelihood of a successful appeal.

1) Segmentation is a great way to target your recipients - for instance - when fund raising for a school, sending the same letter to someone who just graduated in the past couple of years, may not get you the same result from someone who graduated in the 1970s. Personalizing a letter that will be meaningful for each segment of your donor base goes a long way. You can also thank your previous donors, and ask for their continued support, or mention that every new donor brings you that much closer to your goal.

2) Think about who your letters should be from. A letter from the CEO of your organization, or the President of the school may be a good start - but why not think outside of the box? A letter from a patient who survived life saving treatment from a hospital gives an emotional hook to the letter that the executive director just can't give. A student who benefitted from the scholarship you are asking for funding for tells a personal story that the President of the school can't. These hooks may be just what you need to get your recipients attention.

3) Tell people about your goals, and how your organization has helped people, but don't forget to ask for funding. Also, tell them how much you would like to receive from them - if they are a past donor - ask for a specific dollar amount above their previous gift. In the reply card include the amount you asked for, as well as a couple of other amounts, and leave them the option to write in an amount that they want to give.

4) Appeal to the recipients sense of urgency, give them a reason why you need to be funded by a date coming along soon. If they don't react quickly to your appeal, most likely they won't act at all.

5) Make it easy for your donors to give - include a return envelope - postage paid works best. Also, if possible provide a way for them to give on-line. The easier you make it for your donors, the more likely they'll give.

Would you like to see samples of previous appeals that we have produced for clients, you can find them online at - or contact us at 215.638.2679, or e-mail us at and we'd be happy to send them to you.