Fundraising for a worthy cause is satisfying whether you are preparing a letter for a company charitable fundraiser or you work for a nonprofit. People are short on free time, and they don't like to spend it reading every word of a solicitation letter. Your job is to make the reader understand why her donation is so vital and move her to action so she sends in the donation you need.
Start off your cover letter by telling potential donors why your cause is worthy. Make the opening engaging, such as by giving a fast example of how you've changed someone's life. Give names and specifics, but ask permission from the people whose names you want to include in the letter. For example, if you're raising money for a cancer research organization, mention how John Doe got to watch his son graduate high school after being given only a 10 percent chance at life a year before. Instead of focusing on the need, give tangible, personal results donors can relate to.
Be respectful of your reader's time by getting to the point quickly, and be specific about what you need. Fundraising letters can request financial donations, volunteers or supplies. These can be in the form of straight donations for a capital campaign, for example, or sponsorships where donors receive recognition at a special event. Give exact amounts you would like, such as $25 or $200, the number of volunteers you need and for how long, or a list of supplies you think the donor might be able to provide. Tell the donor clearly how to donate, such as to complete the form at the bottom of the page and mail it in or go online to your website.
Before ending your letter, thank the donor for his time and support. Even if he doesn't donate this time, you've gotten the name of your charity in his hands, and it might make him more likely to donate in the future when he remembers the previous contact. According to the nonprofit software professionals at Sumac, thanking the donor in advance shows faith in him that he'll do the right thing and make a donation.
Keeping your letter as short as possible while still including the important information makes it more likely people will read, or at least skim, the document. Help them with this by bolding, underlining or using italics for the salient points, such as why the donor should give, how much you're asking for and how to make the donation. Subheads also help break up the page. Using a personal salutation rather than a generic one such as "Dear Donor" makes your reader more likely to make it past the opening sentence.
Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.