Whoever wisely observed that the difference between try and triumph is a little "umph" could well have been a fundraiser extolling the virtues of a donor-request follow-up. Don't be discouraged by a lackluster response to your initial appeal for donations. Your donors are busy people and only 10 to 20 percent of them will send in donations after reading your first, albeit compelling, letter. From the start, plan to follow up with another well-crafted letter; you may be surprised at how many donors appreciate the reminder. Your follow-up letter can enhance your campaign's overall success significantly.
Restate your cause, about which you wrote your reader several weeks earlier. For example, "Dear Cassandra: As you may remember, I am selling commemorative bricks for a Walk of Hope at XYZ Children's Home to raise funds for badly needed renovations."
Update the reader on the progress you have made since contacting her. Be positive and enthusiastic. For example, "You and I live among kindhearted people; several friends and colleagues have sent in donations in the last few weeks. I now only need $600 more to reach my fundraising goal for the children at XYZ Home."
Remind your reader about why you are writing for her support. Reiterate the need you are trying to address and stress its urgency. For example, "For more than 50 years, XYZ Home has served as a shelter for runaway, abandoned and abused children. The organization has served as a warm, nurturing 'shelter from the storm' to thousands of children, many of whom are now productive members of our community, even leaders. The residential home is in need of repair and refurbishment; it needs a new roof, heating and cooling system and a fresh coat of paint, inside and out."
Repeat your appeal for a specific donation amount and, if applicable, your incentive for the reader to give more. For example, "Cassandra, may I count on you to purchase a tax-deductible, commemorative brick for $150? You simply need to complete and mail me the enclosed form along with your payment and the message you would like us to engrave on your piece. Or you may purchase two or more bricks on my fundraising website at (web address), which will enter you automatically in a raffle for (prize)."
End by sincerely thanking your reader for considering your important cause. State how she may reach you by phone, email and regular mail. Formally close with your best wishes and those of the beneficiaries of her generosity. Then, sign your name.
Add a postscript, or "P.S.," to mention any deadline you may have for contributions. Also, encourage your reader to spread the news with others who may be interested or explore getting a matching gift from her company. Emphasize the magnitude and urgency of the need. End by thanking her again for her kindness.
- "The Accidental Fundraiser: A Step-By-Step Guide to Raising Money for Your Cause"; Stephanie Roth, Mimi Ho; 2005
- "Achieving Excellence in Fundraising"; Timothy L. Seiler, Eugene R. Tempel, Eva E. Aldrich; 2010
- WriteExpress: Follow-Up Letters
- Fundraiser Insight: Fundraising Letters - 25 Quick Tips for Attracting Readers
- Sharpe Tips: Dear Alan, What Do You Recommend for Reminder Letters?
Since 1988, Diana Faustmann has been writing on technology, business and culture. Her articles have appeared in various print publications, corporate websites and authoritative online sites. Faustmann holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of the Philippines.