The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

15 Tips to Help You Raise More Money by Mail

Reprinted from "115 Tips to Raise More Money by Mail"

  • Use the same appeal message in your mail solicitations, on your Web site "call to action," and in your e-mail communications—to reinforce your message over and over.
  • Focus more on your donor and what he or she wants to accomplish than on your organization.
  • The appeal letter can have only one objective: a clear ask for support. It is not a newsletter, an end-of-year report, or item mixed in with other communications.
  • Your top priority is always to renew your past donors.
  • Don't solicit any donors until you have shown them what results you have accomplished with their first gift.
  • Be sure to communicate with your donors frequently in between appeals so they are up to date and feel connected to your organization.

Draw Your Donors In

  • Use the word "you" immediately in the first sentence of your appeal.
  • Repeat the word "you" frequently; it's the most important word in your letter. Always make it about the donor.
  • Always immediately thank donors for their past support in the first or second lines. I like to open letters with "thank you" to remind donors of their partnership for the cause.
  • Use the word "I" in the letter to make it more personal and friendly. It does wonders changing your tone from "institutional" to "personal."
  • Tell a story. Narrative is far more powerful than a set of statistics and organizational accomplishments.
  • Use photos in your letter or accompanying materials. The donor will read captions under photos before your letter copy.
  • Always use photos of people, not buildings. It's what happens inside the buildings that counts.
  • Photos of cute kids and attractive people draw better than photos of sick kids or unpleasant scenes. (Cute animals draw better than sick animals.)
  • Always, always, always send out personalized letters ("Dear Mr. Smith," rather than "Dear Friend").

Read all 115 tips

Gail Perry, MBA, CFRE
© 2010, Gail Perry Associates

Gail Perry is the author of Fired Up Fundraising: Turn Board Passion into Action and founder of Gail Perry Associates, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based consulting and training firm.

Topics: Fundraising