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Nonprofit Education

How to Draft a Nonprofit Appeals Letter

A woman’s hands are seen writing in a notebook.

Knowing how to write successful donation appeals is a valuable skill in the nonprofit sector. A well-written email or direct mail appeal can result in your organization receiving new or recurring donations and help to spread the word about the excellent work your tax-exempt 501c3 business is doing in the community. Depending on your strategic plan, some nonprofits prefer digital communication (emails, social media, text messages) for their donation appeals, and others prefer traditional, hard-copy letters sent via the US Postal Service. Regardless of whether your organization uses both or chooses one over the other, developing the ability to write a strong nonprofit appeal letter will help your organization generate the funds it needs to deliver programs and services.

If this is your first time writing a donation appeal, don’t worry! We’re here to provide a step-by-step guide for writing a compelling and effective message.

Personalize the Message

Look over your contact list and make sure names are spelled correctly. Always start your nonprofit appeal letter with a personalized salutation. Do not start your message with “Dear Supporter” or “Dear Friend.”

Offer Thanks

Start your letter by thanking the person for whatever their most recent form of support was. This mention could be a cash donation, volunteering, actively participating on your social media account, or providing corporate sponsorship. Everyone likes to be thanked for their involvement!

 Typewriter ribbon with the text, “Stories matter.”

Share the Story

It’s crucial that your email or direct mail appeal conveys the community issues or societal problem your nonprofit is working to solve. By telling a compelling, conversational story about the people you’re serving, you’ll place your organization’s mission into a real-life, relatable story. However, brevity is essential! Make sure your donation appeal’s story fits into a few sentences.

Define the Program and the Goal

In the next part of your nonprofit appeal letter, you want to clearly state the issue facing the community and the goal that needs to be achieved to address it. Keep this explanation short and straightforward, but provide the facts. For example, “With unemployment reaching 20% in our community, providing training for entry-level healthcare jobs to 25 adults can increase independence and self-sufficiency.”

A man writes on a notebook while standing in front of a computer.

Ask for What is Needed

You can’t beat around the bush when it comes time to ask for what you need! It’s essential your donation appeal includes how much money your organization needs to raise and how it will be allocated. “To enroll 25 students in our training program, we need to raise $50,000 to cover the costs of instruction, materials, and space rental.” You may also want to provide a more detailed breakdown of costs in your nonprofit appeal letter. This information will help readers realize how their donation will be used. For example, “A gift of $25 purchases the required textbook for one student. A gift of $250 provides for a day’s instruction. A gift of $500 covers the cost of space rental for a month.”

Make Giving Easy

Accepting many different forms of payment is essential for the success of your nonprofit appeal letter. Credit cards, PayPal or Venmo, and debit cards are a must. If you’re accepting donations directly through your website, then make sure your payment platform is secure.

Formatting and Design

Take the time to format your donation appeal with eye-catching graphic design and photos so that people can see how their support is used. You’ll want to do this for both your email or direct mail appeal.

Review, review, review

Take the time to proofread and review before pressing “send” or dropping envelopes into the mailbox. Is the formatting professional? Is the tone friendly but straightforward? And don’t forget to make sure the links you provide for online donations work correctly!

Writing an excellent nonprofit appeal letter will make your fundraising more successful. When your words and stories stay in the minds and hearts of your readers, they’ll care about your work and want to help you succeed. Now that you have a better idea of what to do, it’s time to grab your laptop or notebook and start writing your first appeal!

Need more information?

If you’d like more information about managing your startup nonprofit successfully, then our online resources are a great place to start! Whether it’s project management, recruiting a nonprofit Board, keeping Board members engaged, or creating programs, BryteBridge Nonprofit Solutions can help you and your nonprofit succeed. Contact us at any time.