I assume they’re fundraising letters because they’re the only letter the organizations send out – once a year, around Christmas time. (And if they’re not trying to raise money, I can’t for the life of me imagine what purpose they have, except for wasting money on printing and mailing.)
Many of us seem to have a resistance to asking people for things – especially money.
I do too. It’s why I write letters instead of raising money face to face.
And I don’t know how to make you feel better about asking for money (as if you should feel anything but good about raising money for a good cause), but I do know how to make it easier for you to ask.
The simplest way to do it is to just ask for it.
Don’t dance around the issue. Don’t hint that you’d like them to send money. Don’t assume they know what you want. In fact, don’t assume they’re reading you letter at all. They might just be skimming…
You have to clearly tell your reader what you want them to do.
If you’re asking for money, then say so. Ask your donor’s for help, but make it clear that the help you’re looking for is financial.
Even better – if you’ve got an idea of how much money you’d like them to give, tell them.
Are you hoping they give $35? Tell them that. Then tell them why. And don’t just tell them once!
I ask for money 3 times in each letter I write.
Well… Ok, my first ask usually isn’t very straightforward. In fact, it’s more along the lines of what I said not to do earlier.
The first time (usually very early in the letter) I hint. I say something like “You could do something about this.” Or “your help could make a difference.”
I don’t feel that hitting my reader up for money right from the start is the most effective way to go about it. I’d rather plant the suggestion in their head while I build the emotional appeal that will put them in the right mindset for giving. (Opinions vary on this. Don't be afraid to test different types of asks out and see what works best for your organization.)
But when it comes time to ask for money, I make sure that I am clear. “Your donation of $X today will…”
And I repeat that ask in the P.S. (Research has shown a large number of people only read the P.S. in a fundraising letter. Some of them will give. More will give if you ask them.)
So where does the first serious ask go in the letter?
After you’ve made your case for WHY they would want to give.
You’ve told them a story that clearly illustrates the problem you’re trying to solve. You’ve got them emotionally invested in finding a solution.
And the solution is?
To give you money!
“Do you wish you could do something about this? You can. Your donation of $X today will….”
Just a few sentences, and you’ve specifically and clearly asked your reader for money. They know what you want them to do. They may not do it, but that’s another matter.
Your job is to ask, and you did it.
Now make sure to repeat your ask in the P.S. and call it a day.
Of course, if you’d rather have someone write it for you, I’m always available…