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Simple (and Powerful) Fundraising Letter Template: Free Download

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

Updated 11.25.2023 by Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning nonprofit content writer, website publisher, and author of 9 books.

Oh, how I wish I had this fundraising letter template when I first started writing for nonprofits and ministries!

I’d just completed AWAI’s Six-Figure Copywriting Course (which was awesome) and I’d learned basic copywriting skills. But I struggled to modify those tools to the nonprofit and ministry marketplace. I knew that I needed to use all those yummy persuasive copywriting techniques, but I also knew that donors didn’t want a hard sell. The latest trend towards conversational copywriting means a less forceful Ask. Furthermore, appeal letters for small to mid-size organizations tend to be much shorter (1-2 pages) than long-form sales letters and direct mail – particularly because readers’ attention spans are decreasing.

I learned to adapt. But it took some time and a whole lot of mistakes.

If you’re a copywriter, ministry writer, or content writer (or want to be one), then writing appeal letters can be part of your bread and butter. Even if you’re a general freelancer, then there’s a good chance you’ve been asked (or will be asked) to write a fundraising letter, whether for a client or for an organization that you support.

Naturally, you want to write a good one.

#FundraisingLetter template: free download with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #FreelanceWriting #Copywriting #WritingTips

Why you should write a print fundraising letter (and not just online posts)

But with the explosion of online tools that allow nonprofits to solicit gifts through social media, you may wonder whether you should even bother writing a print fundraising letter.

The answer is yes. A recent Direct Marketing Association study reported a 5-9% response rate from direct mail compared with a 1% email, social media, and paid search response rate combined. 

Plus, you can do more with a print letter than simply send it through the mail.

  • You can use it element in a presentation packet to major donors.
  • You can use it as the starting point for the rest of your campaign when you adapt its content to a series of emails.
  • You can post its contents on your website, modifying it appropriately. 
  • You can extract snippets from your fundraising letter, add an Ask, and use as social media posts, which allows you to keep messaging consistent.

Why you should use a fundraising letter template

Like any writing formula, a fundraising letter template provides a simple outline to follow as you write.  Within the nonprofit realm, there are additional reasons why using a template makes sense when asking for gifts.

A template is efficient

A letter template saves you time and effort. You won’t need to start from scratch each time you need to send out a fundraising letter. Instead, you’ll have a ready-made outline for your letter that you can tailor to specific campaigns or appeals. A well-structured template can help ensure that your message is clear and concise. This is crucial for conveying your organization's mission and the specific goals for a particular campaign.

Further, a fundraising letter template is not just for direct mail. True, a print appeal letter is a different format than an email appeal. But they share similar traits. By completing the template worksheet, you complete the legwork for an entire campaign.

  • Use a fundraising letter template to brainstorm for your project and gather material.
  • Use the template to organize ideas for other elements of a campaign – your website giving page, emails, social media posts, postcards, phone scripts – so that your theme and language are consistent.
  • Use the template to create consistent language and messaging.

A template provides a professional structure

A well-designed template hits all the high notes that are required for an effective appeal, which sets you apart as a pro. If you’re a nonprofit leader, a template gives you assurance that you’re presenting your cause in a proven format. If you’re a freelancer, a template helps reflect your credibility as you work with clients. You demonstrate that you know how to help nonprofits communicate with donors.

A template helps normalize an Ask

You may feel all cringey at the idea of asking people for money. And like me, you may struggle with transitioning your content writing and copywriting skills to appeal letters. If so, a fundraising letter template worksheet helps you make that crossover with ease.

A template can track outcomes

Use a template to write your fundraising letters for different appeal letter projects throughout the year. Then compare the results with other fundraising letter formats. A template shows you what works and what you need to change in your appeals.

A template is a teaching tool

If you’re new to writing fundraising letters – or if you’re a leader whose staff is new to the appeal writing process – a template gives you a format to follow. It shows you the key elements you need to include in your fundraising letter. Use the template enough times and writing a fundraising letter becomes second-nature to you. In other words, a fundraising letter template becomes a DIY teaching tool.

Why use a #fundraising letter template? with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #nonprofits #WritingTips

Use a simple (but powerful) fundraising letter template that's versatile

My fundraising letter template is just one example of a successful appeal format – one that works.

One beauty of this template is that it is flexible.

  • You can use it to target readers who are interested in supporting the scientific work in advancing a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • You can follow the same template as you write to prospects that would like to see green space preservation.
  • You can use it to write either a print letter, an email campaign –or both.

7 elements to include in your fundraising letter

When you download the template, you’ll see that it is formatted so you can scribble ideas for the 7 key elements of your fundraising letter. In that sense, it’s more like a worksheet than a simple formula.

1. Salutation

Personalize your appeal with the recipient’s first name. Spell it correctly. You want your reader to feel like you know her. If you or your client cannot personalize your campaign with mail merge, then identify your reader as specifically as possible. Example: “Dear friend of hurting Pennsylvania families …”

2. A Good Story

Open your appeal with a vivid, emotional story about your work that illustrates the need or impact of a gift. Connect your reader to the story by speaking directly to her with “You” language (“You can make a big difference for these hurting children with your gift”) and highlight how they can help (“Your gift will allow this program to continue”). 

3. Call To Action #1

Offer a call to action right at the top of the letter – one that prompts the reader to give. The reason for this is quite simple: some readers are predisposed to giving a gift and will want to get on with the process without reading the rest of your letter.

Make it easy for her to do so. Tell her a specific dollar amount. In print appeals, use a bold font for the call to action. In email appeals, link the entire call to action to your giving page. Example: “Your gift of $200 will guarantee that more children like Shauna  have a safe place to go after school for tutoring, healthy snacks, and character education for the entire spring semester. Please join us today to create a better future.”

4. Your Explanation

This is the section of your letter where you connect the dots. Don’t assume that your reader understands intuitively why you need the gift and how you will use the gift. You need to explain why.

  • Spell out why you need the gift. Provide detail about what the funds will make possible or what calamity those funds will prevent. Here’s where it’s helpful to use facts to back up your heart-tugging story to prove that your case is valid. Facts also answer immediate objections that readers have before they can even voice those excuses to themselves in their minds.

    Be clear and specific. For example, say, “Without your gift, every day 300 children in our city – just like Shauna – will be unsupervised, hungry, and unsafe until bedtime, rather than having a safe, loving place to go after school for tutoring, healthy snacks, and character education. That’s right, 300 child per day, according to the latest numbers from the Board of Education.”

  • Spell out how you will use the gift. The more explicit you can be, the better.

    Put yourself in the donor’s shoes. When you know how your funds will be spent you have assurance that you’re making a good investment. “When you donate, we will put your gift to use right away for Shauna. She and other children like her will get a healthy snack of fruit and milk after school, five days a week, while our certified tutors help her with her schoolwork. And they’ll be at the school, in a safe location with security, so parents won’t need to worry about abduction or violence.”

5. Call to Action #2

Repeat your call to action, but now do so with urgency. Your reader has stuck with you this far, so make another appeal, but use different language than with your first call to action.

  • Make sure donors know why you need them to act now. “Without your support, we will have to suspend our afterschool services this summer” or "Our matching donor will double your gift if we receive it by December 31.”
  • Tell the reader exactly what to do.“Click on this link” or “Complete the response device right now, while you’re thinking about it."

6. Closing

Thank the reader for her support. Inspire them with a positive, hopeful outlook for the future, reminding her about the beneficiaries you mentioned in your opening story: “Because of you and partners like you, Shauna and their friends have a hope for a successful school year.” Include your signature. 

7. P.S.

Siegfried Vögele (1931-2014), the “Albert Einstein of Direct Mail,” called the P.S. the first paragraph of your letter, not the last – because over 90 percent of readers read the P.S. before any other element. 

This is THE place to offer a clear Ask. Reinforce the sense of urgency to encourage donors to act right away. Example: “You are our most trusted partner in the fight for a better education. We are so close to our goal. Your gift today will help put us over the top before December 31. Give here. Thank you!”

Get your copy of the Fundraising Letter Template worksheet

I’m a big fan of simplifying the writing process. Why reinvent the wheel if other writers have found a tip or a method that works? That’s why I like writing formulas, blueprints, and templates.

And that’s one big reason I created this fundraising letter template. True, the template doesn’t do the writing for you. However, it offers you a proven structure that has worked for me as I come alongside nonprofits to help them raise millions of dollars.

Whether you’re a busy fundraising veteran or a new writer, you can get started writing your own powerful fundraising appeals with this template. Evidence that it works? You’ll see in the response. Let me know how the template worksheet helps you!


Download your copy of the Fundraising Letter Worksheet Template.

More Helpful WritingTips

You can get 20 free fundraising letter templates to solicit donation items, corporate sponsorships and more from our good friends at Check out their site here.

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