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10 Ways to Start a Letter

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.

The cursor blinks incessantly, begging you to start a letter. But you can’t get any words on paper.

10 ways to start a letter with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #FreelanceWriting #WritingTips #Copywriting

Yet getting the words flowing can be a stumbling block for new writers as well as those who have written hundreds of letters and afraid of sounding like a broken record.

It can happen when you’re writing a cover letter, a sales letter, a prospecting letter, a fundraising letter, a letter of inquiry, a letter of complaint or even a thank you letter.

(Here's an explanation of the kinds of letters that freelancers are often called upon to write.)

Tip: there’s no one single way to start a letter. There are dozens of first sentences that you can write.

Let’s put to bed these fears and start a letter together.

We’ll pretend you’re writing a prospecting letter – one that will generate leads. Naturally, these letter openings work for a sales pitch, cover letter, letter of inquiry or all kinds of letters.

The point is that  you can start a letter in lots of different ways. 

How can you begin?

10 Ways You Can Start a Letter

1. Tell a Story

“I need a strategic plan,” a client told me just today.  “But it’s hard to find a writer who understands my niche.” Have you ever felt that way?

2. Tell the Reader He is Special

Not everybody can run a nonprofit or small business. You do – even on days when there are more things to do than minutes in your hours.

3. Relate to the Reader’s Challenges

As a small business owner, you wear multiple hats – salesperson, accountant, marketing guru, administrator, just to name a few. I know the challenge you face in keeping all those balls in the air because I’ve done it myself. 

4. Shock With Facts

A recent study reported that one in five nonprofits operate without a written plan. If that’s you, you may be setting yourself up to fail.

5. Give Assuring News

You’re among the 92% of U.S. nonprofits defined as small – with an annual budget of less than $1 million. But you needn’t let that hold you back in creating a quality, clear strategic plan. I’ve done it for others and I’d like to do it for you.

6. Make an Offer

I’m writing to today to offer you a free report, Easy and Cheap: 5 Low-Cost or No-Cost Tips for Writing Your Strategic Plan. It’s yours with no strings attached.

7. Quote the Experts

81% of all nonprofits don’t have a written strategic plan – and 49% don’t have a strategic plan at all, according to a study by the gurus at the Concord Leadership Group. Are you among them?

8. Explain that You Can Help

As the person responsible for running your nonprofit, you’ve got plenty on your plate. I’ve served on three nonprofit boards – and I think I can help make your life easier.  

9. Ask a Question

When was the last time you updated your strategic plan? If you’re like most small business owners, the answer is “Never.”

10 .Make an Announcement

I’ve just released my latest free report, Easy and Cheap: 5 Low-Cost or No-Cost Tips for Writing Your Strategic Plan, and I’d like to get a copy in your hands.

What are other ways to start a letter that I didn’t cover here? Help another writer out. Share in the comments!

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