Create a Story Appeal Letter that Gets Donations


Your mission, should you choose to accept it…

Hi and welcome to October’s lesson: Create a Story Appeal Letter that Gets Donations. This month we are learning about the Story Appeal letter and how to create one. 

What is an appeal letter?

An appeal or fundraising letter communicates your organization’s needs, gives your recipients information about how they can help, and asks them to get involved. It is the primary strategy used for individual donors.


Why you need to do it:

Why do we write and send appeal letters?

Your purpose in raising money through the mail is two-fold: generate dollars for immediate needs and build relationships with individual donors for long-term success.

There are two main types of appeal letters: informational and story. Informational is an appeal letter that provides more statistics than story. It is the letter you write when you don’t have a story. The story letter is emotional by nature and has the best success rate. In this lesson, we will go through the story letter. 


What you actually need to do:

Since the goal is to write a story appeal letter at any stage, then the following applies no matter your stage. Use the following to guide you.

Don’t forget to submit your letter for review and feedback!

Is your organization ready for an appeal letter?

Use the Fundraising Letter Readiness Checklist below to help you decide. If you aren’t quite ready, work on the items you don’t have in place. 

Fundraising Letter Readiness Checklist

  • ❐ Do you have at least 25 names to mail to? (If not, the introduction letter may be a better option if you need a letter quickly.)
  • ❐ Can you clearly describe how you’re making a difference in the world? 
  • ❐ Are you currently and consistently communicating with those you will mail to?
  • ❐ Do you know what it costs you to deliver a unit of service, down to the penny? (This is your core number. A video is under the Training tab to help you determine that number.)
  • ❐ Is there money budgeted for postage and printing?
  • ❐ Are there 2 or 3 volunteers who can help fold and stuff letters?
  • ❐ Do you know a specific goal for the amount you’d like to raise through the mail?
  • ❐ Do you have a donor-tracking software where you can record donor and gift information? A spreadsheet will work for this too if your list is 25 or less. Givebox is a free option that will also track donations.
  • ❐ Can you mail merge donor names into your fundraising letter or get help getting it done? Word will do this and Google Docs can do it with a free add on.

Mailing List of 25 or Less

If you have 25 or less people on your mailing list, then write the Introduction Letter using the SWIPE file as your guide. Have your Board send 10 letters to their friends and family.


Mailing List of 25+

You are ready to put your story appeal letter together. Use the Nonprofit Nation Story Planner to help you get started. You can find it in the downloads.

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