How to write an inspiring fundraising letter

4 December 2019
SERIES Ideas, reflections and advice from future think tank leaders 17 items

Writing a compelling letter is a must for any think tank fundraising strategy. And it’s worth investing time and effort into developing your fundraising letters, if you want them to bear fruit.

In this letter, you will tell a story that will catch your potential donors’ interest. A good story consists of both facts – demonstrating what your think tank has achieved – as well as your vision for change – cultivating the donor’s passion to support your cause.

As Chief Administrative and Finance Manager for Tanzanian think tank STIPRO, writing fundraising letters is part of my job. Here are my top six tips for writing an inspiring and compelling fundraising letter, and a recent example I wrote asking potential donors to support the upcoming international conference AfricaLics 2019.

1.  Personalise it

This is one of the greatest ways of establishing individual relationships with your donors. It is important to keep in mind that people, not organisations, give funds. So, avoid ‘Dear Sir/Madam’; find out who is responsible for the funds and write to them personally. At the end of letter, it should also be signed by a named person: you as the fundraising lead, or the organisation director.

2.  Thank your donors

If you’re approaching a repeat donor, it’s important to thank them for their past support before asking for more, as a matter of courtesy.

3.  State the donation purpose

Make sure that the purpose of the request is clearly defined. This will put you and your funder on the same page. Be concise, to avoid the main points getting lost in too many words. Provide a link to the website in case a donor wants extra information.

4.  Be specific about how much you need

It is highly advisable to mention a specific amount of funds. Fundraising letters always asks for money, not support, so it’s helpful to mention the exact amount requested.

5.  Show how the donor will benefit

Effective fundraising letters should not only talk about your needs. Show how your event/programme fits into the donor’s objectives. This will motivate donors to be involved in your cause.

6.  Provide contact numbers for queries or clarifications

It is advisable to thank your potential donors in advance and provide an option for them to get in touch if they require clarifications or further information. Provide a name, email address and contact number.