Five Maples’ Fundraising Blog

Want the most effective fundraising letter possible? Use this best practice checklist.

Download the Five Maples Better Letter Checklist!

  • Is it clear what problem the organization is addressing and how a gift will help solve that problem?
  • Is the letter from one person to another? Not from a committee?
  • Engaging? Personal, even chatty style?
  • Creates a bond; uses “you” and “I”?
  • Appeals to emotions via narrative?
  • Uses a story instead of facts about organization?
  • Uses a limited vocabulary, short sentences, and paragraphs?
  • Have extra adjectives or adverbs, verbal crutches, circumlocutions been edited out?
  • Uses active voice not passive voice?
  • Includes a call for giving in the body of the letter and in the P. S.?
  • Asks for a specific amount, not just for “support”?
  • Asks multiple times (hard and soft)?
  • Focuses on how the gift will deliver the mission, not how much the organization needs the money?
  • Includes “thank you”?
  • Starts with a personalized salutation?
  • May include the donor’s name in a critical sentence in the body text?
  • Reminds the donor of the benefits of giving?
  • Describes an opportunity for the donor to achieve personal desires by giving to the organization?
  • Are the claims in the letter believable and the narrative authentic?
  • Is it clear why readers need to respond right now?
  • Does the opening paragraph of the letter engage the reader’s attention?

Design

  • Looks like a letter, not like a memo/marketing brochure?
  • Photos or graphic elements are correctly placed: top right or middle left?
  • Scanned signature is high quality; blue if possible?
  • One signature, not several?
  • Photos, if any, are of people (making eye contact, if possible) and have captions?
  • Uses spot or full color in one or more non-text elements (photo, logo, captions, etc.)?
  • Are important phrases in underline, italics, or bold?
  • Do underlined, italicized, bolded phrases lead the reader through the appeal?
  • Uses two pages (front and back) if needed to tell the story without crowding?
  • No more than seven lines per paragraph?

Typography

  • Uses a serif typeface?
  • Letter body is in black only?
  • No reverse type?
  • Any color behind the text is limited to 10 percent tint?
  • Headlines, if any, are in upper and lower case, not ALL CAPS?
  • Text is flush left or justified?

Download the Five Maples Better Letter Checklist!

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