Key Ingredients to Making Your Appeal Letters Great!


The previous post made the case for why appeal letters are such an important part of your Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat system. Now it’s time to uncover what ingredients are needed to write appeal letters that raise a ton of money.  Here is a short but powerful list!

  • Tell a real-life story to illustrate the need.  Use stories, not statistics, to show donors the need your organization serves.
  • Have an “offer” that summarizes and simplifies what the donor’s gift does.  It takes real work to develop good offers, but they will raise much more money than generic requests to send your organization a gift.
  • Make your letter scanable because most people will scan it before they read it.  Underline or highlight the most important sentences in the letter.
  • Get to the point very quickly.
  • Ask three times.  Most donors won’t read the whole letter so you need to make a direct ask in multiple places to increase the chance they understand: Ask once in the first three paragraphs, once in the last three paragraphs, and once in the P.S.
  • Remember that the letter isn’t about your organization.  Talk about the people who need help and talk about what the donor can do about it.  “Don’t ask the donor to send your organization a gift, ask them to send a gift to help the beneficiaries.
  • Make it readable.  Most donors are older; so don’t use tiny type that they struggle to read.

Now that you know what it takes to write a great appeal letter, go out and do it!  Your donors are waiting to send you a gift to make the world a better place.  All you have to do is ask 🙂

To help you develop great appeal letters we created this short video to illustrate the above mentioned points.  Watch it here.

Jim Shapiro

Jim Shapiro is the fundraising coach you’ve always wanted, the proven Sherpa who can help you get to the top of the mountain. Jim has 30 years’ experience raising money, including serving as the VP of Development for a global $100m nonprofit. He co-founded The Better Fundraising Co. to help small-to-medium nonprofits raise more money.

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