Getting What You Need By Getting To The Point

To write well, express yourself like the common people, but think like a wise man. – Aristotle

imagesI KNOW, I KNOW, YOU HAVE PUT A LOT OF WORK into the structuring of what you do, so naturally you want to show the world the logic behind it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s impressive but it’s frustrating to wade through all that information for those who might be interested in helping you.

Time is a luxury for people nowadays. They lead very busy lives. You only have a brief window of time to catch their attention and inspire them to support you.

Following are 7 Dos and Don’ts to keep in mind when writing fundraising copy:

  1. Do use short sentences with easy-to-understand words.
  2. Do write as if you’re having a conversation with one person. Determine who your typical donor is. Write your copy as if to her.
  3. Do say thank you right up front. Don’t ask for more before you’ve said thank you for the last gift!
  4. Do Include a compelling story about how one of your clients has succeeded and link it back to the support of your donor.
  5. Do Provide one strong call to action and a convenient way for your reader to respond.
  6. Do invite your reader into a deeper relationship with your organization.
  7. Do say thank you again.

Writing fundraising copy is an art that often defies the traditional rules of writing. Why not consider these 7 benefits of contracting a professional to write your fundraising copy? They can ensure that your letter:

  1. is all about the donor and how (s)he makes a difference
  2. is free of jargon and industry terminology
  3. is easy to read and understand
  4. tells a compelling story and links it to the efforts of your donor
  5. has a clear ask
  6. includes a response device and offers other easy options for donating to your organization
  7. provides contact information and invites donors to share their ideas and questions with you

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.



  1. Philip Tome (@PhilipTome)

    Hi Diana… I wonder if any of your readers have data on the impact of thanking a donor for their last gift (with specific details) in the fundraising letter. I’ve certainly seen the impact of referencing the timing of the last gift. It strikes me that those nonprofits who truly embrace a donor-centric strategy driven by genuine thankfulness will reap rewards for years to come. I think your DOs list encourages nonprofits to embrace a ‘donors first’ approach. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wyrd Smythe

    While I understand that a “thank you” letter from a charity often also includes a suggestion or request for more — and I’m not put off by that, as such — I am most touched when it doesn’t.

    • The Other Bottom Line

      Thank you for sharing your preference, I know others who feel the same way. It’s all about knowing one’s donors’ wishes and doing one’s best to honour them individually as resources permit.

      Having said that, data does support the fact that including an ask or even just a return envelope with a thank you letter and official tax receipt does result in more gifts to be applied to the work of the organization.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Oh, I have no doubt about that. I’m usually an outlier in just about any data set. XD

        And to emphasize that it doesn’t put me off — I fully appreciate the realities — but those that are just pure “thank you”s go up a notch in my eyes is all.

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