Five Maples’ Fundraising Blog

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

  • Has the marketing proposition behind the appeal been worked out? Is it consistent with the organization’s case for giving?
  • Makes clear what problem the organization is addressing and how a gift will help solve that problem “with your help”?
  • 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 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 (first or last paragraph) and in the P. S.?
  • Asks for a specific amount, not just for “support”?
  • Focuses on the difference the money will make in the life of an individual and 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 meet personal needs or achieve personal desires by supporting a worthy charitable aim?
  • 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?
  • Does the P.S.disclose some benefit or intriguing fact that’s not discussed in the body copy? Is it especially interesting?
  • Does an extra gift or upgrade letter lay out the reasons why the donor’s aims will benefit from giving more?


  • Looks like a letter?
  • Photos or graphic elements are correctly placed: top right or middle left; no middle graphic crosses the whole page?
  • Scanned signature is high quality; blue if possible?
  • One signature, not several?
  • Photos, if any, are of people and have captions?
  • Uses spot or full color in one or more non-text elements?
  • Do a few important phrases in underline, italics, or bold lead the reader on the first glance-over through the essential elements of the narrative and the appeal?
  • Uses two pages (front and back) if needed to tell the story without crowding?
  • No more than seven lines per paragraph?


  • Uses a serif typeface?
  • Text is in black only?
  • Uses 10/12, 11/12, 11/13, or 12/13 point text/leading?
  • 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?

Need help writing or editing your fundraising letter, thank you letter, donor newsletter, or planned giving letter? I can help.

Call me at 800-437-7780 ext 104, or Email Me Today!

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