It’s appeal or fundraising letter writing time. It is so hard to get started writing and put something on paper that will bring in much-needed funds. There’s always a moment when I hit send on an email or put the last letter in the mailbox, that I feel the weight of what I’ve just done. What if no one donates? What if we don’t meet goals?


The thing is I can guarantee you will get $0 if you don’t ask for money. It is one of the only guarantees fundraisers can make. But there are things you can do to increase the odds that your supporters will give. The first one of those things is to know your ideal donor. Every aspect of your fundraising letter is influenced by who they are.


How does knowing your ideal donor help you write an appeal letter?

  • Helps You Talk to Them Like a Friend

When you know your ideal donor’s internal struggles, you can tap into them and really connect with your reader. You will be more comfortable writing to them like a trusted friend or family member. Connecting with your reader like this creates trust, increases the amount that they like the organization, and creates a bond of trust. All things donors need to feel comfortable donating to you.

  • Helps You Figure Out Your Theme

I worked for a nonprofit once whose ideal donor came from the Great Depression generation. When I thought about the Christmas stories my grandparents talked about as a child, I realized there were common elements. Typical Christmas gifts for Great Depression children were a new pair of shoes and an orange. They were prized gifts in fact. What do you think about  images and language that triggers nostalgia- an emotional response. I created a theme around the nostalgic images.

  • Builds Empathy

When you subtly demonstrate through your language that you understand the reader, you convey empathy. You understand what it’s like to walk in their shoes. You can’t do that without knowing your ideal donor. Defining your ideal donor requires you to understand their struggles and the life they live. When you incorporate those things into your appeal letter, you connect with your reader on a deeper level.


If you would like to discover your ideal donor, this week is the last one to sign up for the Define Your Ideal and Loyal Donor 5-Day Challenge. By the end of the challenge, you will know who your ideal donor is and be able to brainstorm 10 places to find them. I know donors are scary. Who are they? Where do you find them? Raising money with them feels uncomfortable. Raising money without them through events and grants feels safe. But those methods are more advanced methods and without mastering the basics, the advanced methods won’t be sustainable. It’s like trying to put a roof on a house without laying the foundation or building the studs for the walls. You may be able to build the roof but it will never get higher than the ground and never protect you when the storms come. Defining your ideal donor is the foundation of fundraising and the most efficient and cost-effective way to begin funding your mission. Join us today for the 5-Day Challenge!

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