Fundraising Letters: Asking for Donations Made Easy [+ Examples]

There's a reason nonprofits spend time on their fundraising letters. These letters can not only result in more donations for your organization – they can also help build stronger relationships with your donors. But crafting the perfect letter with a compelling ask can sometimes feel impossible! Read on to learn some tried-and-true tips for crafting the perfect fundraising letters. Plus, read our two examples to get inspired!

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Fundraising Letters: Asking for Donations Made Easy [+ Examples]

Fundraising letters are the key to connecting with a wide variety of funding. But crafting the perfect ask can understandably feel daunting for many organizations. How do you adequately demonstrate your need, impact, and mission without overwhelming your reader?

Even as online fundraising becomes more and more popular, fundraising letters (sometimes called solicitation letters) are still an essential part of a successful fundraising strategy. This is because they generally reach those parts of the population that online fundraising doesn’t – and they can help drive donations overall.

In this article, we’ll share the steps to writing an effective nonprofit fundraising letter. We’ll also share some samples to help guide you!

How to Write an Effective Nonprofit Fundraising Letter

1. Determine Your Goal

While your ultimate goal – to get a donation – will remain the same regardless of the type of fundraising letter you’re writing, setting a goal upfront is a great way to guide your writing. Consider the following questions –

  • Are you fundraising for your general fund or for a specific campaign?
  • What are your fundraising goals for this campaign? This quarter? This year?
  • Let’s say 50% of your mailing list makes a donation. What’s the minimum amount they would need to donate so you meet your goal?

Having a clear goal in mind will help you craft your donation request letter. For example, if you need as many people as possible to donate $50, you’ll need to demonstrate more need and urgency than if you were asking for $5.

2. Think About Your Audience

Who are you writing to?

For some campaigns, you’ll have multiple audiences. Segmenting your audiences helps you target different people in ways that are more suited to them. For example, you may have one letter for major donors and one for mid-level and smaller donors. Both will have a similar sentiment, but the way you make your ask – and how much you ask for – will differ.

Some other audience considerations include age, location, donation frequency, and participation/engagement. Let your audience guide how you make your ask and what you include in your fundraising letter.

3. Tell an Engaging Story

Storytelling is like magic in a fundraising letter. A great story engages your audience’s emotions, demonstrates the real value of your work, and builds trust in your organization.

But…how do you begin? Start by asking your staff or volunteers for some recent success stories. You can also tell the story of your organization’s founding. You don’t always have to tell a happy story – sometimes an honest story about a time your organization struggled can be equally effective.

Remember that the best stories are driven by memorable characters. Who are your characters, and what details can you share about them?

For more guidance, check out this guide to telling the perfect fundraising story.

4. Keep it Donor-Centric

Amongst several magic words that help nonprofit organizations increase donations, the word “you” stands out.

Donor-centric communication is the cornerstone of a successful fundraising campaign. Using the word “you” makes your donors feel valued and removes the walls between your donors and your organization.

Donors who feel appreciated are more likely to give again.

Replace the word “I” with “you” wherever possible to add human interest and emphasize the personal touch.

  • You allowed us to employ 1,000 people last year – and your dedication makes all the difference!

5. Make it Easy to Read

The easier your letter is to read, the more likely someone will read it through to the end.

But how do you make something easy to read? Consider these tips:

  • Choose a legible font that’s at least 12pt in size.
  • Choose readability over fancy design – and keep accessibility in mind.
  • Keep your sentences and paragraphs short.
  • Underline or highlight key words or phrases.
  • Avoid overblown sales language that will make your letter sound disingenuous.
  • Write like you speak – this will be more engaging to your donors than a stiff, formal letter.

Remember to skim-proof your donation request letter. This means that you must highlight and/or bold your call to action. Anyone who just skims your letter will still get the message!

Pro tip: Studies show that readers respond better when they read a page with a lot of white space (a.k.a., the space between words and paragraphs on a page). So even though you have a whole page to play with, remember that someone will be less likely to read your fund letter if it doesn’t look too cluttered.

6. Skip the Statistics

While you might feel like statistics give your organization credibility, they can fall flat for donors looking to be engaged. Plus, they take up a lot of space in your fundraising letter and can look overwhelming to any donors who aren’t as number-oriented.

This is where telling a good story can help! Instead of listing statistics, choose a short, easy-to-relate story that demonstrates the value of your organization – or the urgent need you must address. What’s more compelling: knowing that an organization served 50 people, or hearing exactly how one single mother received the help she needed?

Save the statistics for your annual or impact reports, where you have room to include compelling infographics.

7. Emphasize Urgency and Call to Action

Donors respond better to urgent needs, not the ones that they can easily ignore until the next appeal. However, it’s not enough to just say “It’s urgent” or “Donate now”, although using those words and expressions can help. You need to tell your donors why they need to give today. What’s at stake? What’s the risk? What are the consequences?

The main purpose of your fundraising letter is to bring in donations, so reinforce that message. At the end of your donation letter, write a clear, compelling call to action, asking for the reader to give a specific amount.  For example, “Will you donate $25 to change a child’s life forever?” sounds a lot more powerful than “Donate today!”

Pro tip: Getting a partner to match the donations for a period of time helps to inspire giving and motivate donors to donate now instead of ‘later’ (which often turns to never). Asking donors to make a matching gift also demonstrates that their gift can go twice as far! Learn more about matching gift fundraising and matching gift programs to make the most out of your next campaign.

8. Thank and Sign

Always thank your donors in the fundraising letter – whether it’s for considering a gift, donating in the past, or simply taking the time to read your donation request letter.

Choose someone specific from your organization – your executive director, development director, or a board member – to sign your fundraising letter. This will show donors how much you value them and will reinforce a personal connection with your organization.

Plus, remember to adequately personalize the letter. The salutation should include each donor’s name (and be sure it’s spelled correctly!).

9. Rewrite, Revise

Revision is your chance to get your fundraising letter in tip-top shape. Here are some tips for revision:

  • Read your letter out loud. This will help you catch any awkward wording or anything that sounds off.
  • Get feedback from your team. Is the call to action clear? Is there anything that doesn’t work?
  • Try to rewrite your letter without looking at your draft. Compare the versions to see which you like better.

Don’t be afraid to go through a couple of drafts. Remember that you’ll likely have multiple versions of your donation request letter for your various donor segments.

10. Keep Your Materials Simple

While preparing a package (teaser, letter, reply envelope, photos, various other inserts) can demonstrate the hard work and care you put into preparing it, the letter is ultimately the most important item in your package. If you include too many inserts in your envelope, the donor won’t be able to focus on the letter, and might even get lost and discard the package as a whole.

Instead, keep the package minimal and only include those inserts that are of utmost value and will invite the donor to give. Furthermore, some donors could be put off by fancy materials that look expensive – if you need donations so urgently, shouldn’t that money go toward your cause?

11. Make it Easy to Give

After having spent hours, days, or even weeks crafting the best fundraising letter possible, it’s essential that you make it easy for your donors to give. For optimal results, offer your donors the option to donate online and offline. For offline donations by check, be sure to include a return envelope and a donation form to collect all the necessary donor information.

Use Donorbox to Collect More Donations

For online donations, let Donorbox make it easy for you. Create your campaign using Donorbox’s easy tools. Customize your donation form to match your organization’s branding, and add additional questions to collect all the information you need. Then, choose to embed your form on your website or host on Donorbox.

Every campaign comes with a free, automatically generated QR code that you can download as a PNG or SVG file. This makes it easy to include in your fundraising letter so donors can give with just a quick scan on their smartphone.

Donorbox Text-to-Give is also a great way to collect online donations from a fundraising letter. With the basic plan, you’ll receive a unique campaign ID your donors can simply text to the text-to-give number. The shortcode plan allows you to create a custom keyword and use the shorter code number, making this process even easier for your donors. Learn more about text-to-give here.

You can include some of your fundraising letter copy on your campaign page, too! Check out how New Beginnings created an on-brand donation page with a brief summary of their needs.

Example of a Donorbox-hosted donation page.

Get Started With Donorbox

Bonus – Direct Mail Hacks to Drive Donations

Some people think direct mail is too outdated, but there are some key reasons why you shouldn’t discredit it! Research says direct mail appeals have an average response rate of 5.3%, compared to 0.1% for emails. This significant response rate is due to the personal nature of direct mail – it’s a tangible, personalized object connecting your donors to your organization.

To help you achieve the best results with your direct mail fundraising campaigns, we have a great resource. Listen to Donorbox Nonprofit Coach Cara Augspurger and Joe Leach, the President of AppealMaker to help you send out your fundraising letters.

Nonprofit Fundraising Letter Examples

Here are two examples to help inspire your writing process

1. A Story-Driven Donation Request Letter

Dear [Donor name],

It’s a warm and sunny Saturday here in Portland. The garden is filled with laughter and there are dozens of children running around. Amongst them are Janet and Michael. Thanks to you, Michael and his sister, Janet, celebrated Michael’s 9th birthday with cake and balloons in a safe and loving place. They are no longer scared and love having their own rooms.

[Begin with emotional appeal or success story to pull the reader in. Try to make this as personal as possible].

Today, we’re asking for your help because thousands more children in Oregon are at risk of abuse and neglect. Violence against children has many faces and forms and can affect a child for the rest of their life, with severe consequences for a child’s physical, psychological and mental health.

We need your help to build a new facility so that we can provide a nurturing environment and quality care to more children who have experienced violence.

We are hoping to raise $20,000 to build the new facility. Without donations like yours, we won’t be able to provide adequate care to neglected and abused children in Portland.

[Donor name], would you consider donating $50, or whatever you can, to help us achieve our mission? 

Together, we can continue ensuring better futures for children like Michael and Janet.

We thank you in advance for your support! Your donation is greatly appreciated.


[Signature of a leader in the organization]

[Typed name and title]

P.S. [Include a statement about upcoming events, deadlines, or other information]

2. An Urgent Donation Letter

Dear [Donor name],

No one should have to choose between making rent and feeding their families.

Unfortunately, this is the reality for many of our neighbors. With the skyrocketing prices of basic goods, wages simply can’t keep up.

Several families are experiencing the effects of unrelenting inflation, making it very hard for those already struggling to make ends meet.

There are so many people who never would have considered using a food pantry or asking for assistance before, but are now struggling and reaching out to [name of charity] for help.

[Charity] fills the gap for families who are especially pinched right now by ensuring neighbors in need have choices of quality, healthy food and are welcomed and met with dignity.

Your support means that we can continue to welcome thousands of people each year who need food and connections to resources.

[Donor name], thank you for your support during our last campaign. You helped fill grocery carts and pantry shelves. Will you donate $50 to continue fighting hunger in our communities? 

One visitor to [charity] shared, “Personally, being able to use [charity] each week has made us feel blessed and cared for in a way that is hard to express. Financially, the weekly groceries have enabled us to keep up with our bills. The love and support [charity] provides are priceless.”

Life continues to be difficult for far too many in our community. Give today to make this winter easier on our neighbors.


[Signature of a leader in the organization]

[Typed name and title]

P.S. You can change the lives of hungry families in your community this holiday season. Make your gift by returning the attached or visiting

Crafting the Perfect Fundraising Letter

Remember, great fundraising is all about authenticity and connection. Making the ask might feel uncomfortable, but it’s necessary to support your important work. You can do so in a way that helps build up your relationships with your donors instead of making them feel transactional.

The best donation letters tell a story, connect with the reader, and keep it simple. Use the tips outlined above to ensure you write the best letter possible for your fundraising campaign.

Donorbox helps more than 400,000 organizations boost their fundraising with a comprehensive suite of tools. Learn more and start boosting your fundraising today!

For more fundraising tips, check out the rest of our Nonprofit Blog. Subscribe to our newsletter for a monthly dose of blog content delivered straight to your inbox.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We have answered some of the common questions regarding fundraising letters.

1. How long should a fundraising letter be?

It depends on how much information you have to share with your donors. The length should be ideally between two pages and four pages. But studies show that long fundraising letters outperform the shorter ones! So don’t be afraid to let your letter go a little longer – just be sure your content is interesting, engaging, and not repetitive. If you don’t have a lot to say, keep it short.

2. How should fundraising letters be sent?

Traditionally, fundraising letters are mailed. Often, these mailers include other materials about your organization, as well as a donation form and return envelope. Modern nonprofits are moving away from doing large mailings and focusing instead on environmentally friendly mailings with fewer materials and easy ways to give online.

3. When should fundraising letters be used?

You can use fundraising letters to inspire donations at any time of the year. But considering the nature of giving, the end of the year, especially November and December, is a good time to send them out. Donors often try to make donations at the end of the year, anticipating tax season.

Check out this guide to year-end fundraising appeals for more information!

4. Why are fundraising letters important?

Fundraising letters are a big part of a successful fundraising strategy because they help bring in more donations. But they’re also a great tool to connect with donors and build stronger relationships.

5. What different ways can I use the fundraising letters?

A fundraising letter can be used to seek donations, request sponsorship, invite supporters to volunteer, ask companies for donations, request auction items, and send out event invitations. The body and tone of the letter will vary depending on the type and audience.

Ilma Ibrisevic is a content creator and nonprofit writer. She’s passionate about meaningful work, sustainability, and social movements. If she’s not working, she’s obsessing over coffee or cooking. You can connect with her on Linkedin.

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