4 Things Your Fundraising Writer Needs From You In Order To Produce Effective Fundraising Appeals

Jackie SmithJuly 22, 2021

fundraising writer

In order to create the best possible fundraising appeals, you’re going to need to provide certain resources to your fundraising writer. Whether you have a person on staff to handle your appeals or you outsource your needs to a consultant, you should equip them with all the information they need to produce the content that will inspire your supporters to donate to your nonprofit.  

Resources your fundraising writer needs to produce fundraising appeals

Usually called a creative brief, creative outline, or communications overview, your job is to create a document where you outline the overall strategy, context, and goals for the campaign. This document is designed to be shared with the writers and designers and anyone else who is working on the campaign. 

This document gives your team immediate access to the same information, as well as a tool they can refer back to throughout the entire creative process. This helps keep everyone focused on the current project, in the proper context, with an eye on the strategy and goals. This is especially helpful for those of us who work on many fundraising appeals throughout the year.

What information do you need when producing an effective fundraising appeal?

While there are many things that you can include in this document, there are four things that you’ll always want to include. 

The target audience

In order to motivate someone to take a desired action, you need to know who they are. Otherwise, you won’t know how to talk to them, what they want to hear, or what will inspire them to respond to your call to action. 

Provide as much info as you can about the target audience. The more your fundraising writer understands them, the better they can communicate specifically to that audience.

For instance, you might tell them that you’re targeting a group of primarily female prospective donors who reside in Jefferson County and have a household income of more than $50,000 or current donors who give between $25-$99 over the course of a certain time period and who have made a donation to your nonprofit three or more times within the past 12 months.  

What action you want the target audience to take and how you’re going to inspire that action

This is the meat and potatoes of the appeal. What is your goal? Based on that, you’ll know which story you want to use and what emotion or tone you’re trying to convey—and how you want that story to make the audience feel. 

This is the part of the document where you would write out the specific deliverables you need for this fundraising appeal and who those appeals should come from (the person from your organization whose name may appear on the communication pieces being produced). If you can, you should also provide a short bio and things that person has written that shows their voice so the fundraising writer can create something that sounds like it came from that person.

What content do you need? Is it a series of fundraising emails? A letter that will be sent out via direct mail with a link to a landing page that the supporter can go to in order to make a donation? 

The more information you provide up front, the fewer questions you’ll have to answer. You’ll also likely save time on the number of revisions you’ll need to finalize the appeal.  

A deadline and timeline 

Once you know who you’re talking to and what you’re sending to them, you need to communicate the timeline for this fundraising campaign. 

There are several dates to pay attention to: 

  • When the project starts
  • When the deliverables need to be finalized
  • When you want to send this content to your supporters 

You may also want to share the last time you communicated to this group of donors and what you talked to them about. Again, context is everything. You want to make sure you’re sending the right message to the right person at the right time. The more information you provide, the better able your team or consultant will be able to produce an effective appeal. 

Why you’re sending this appeal

As we mentioned above, the more information you can provide, the better. With any project, it always helps to understand the goal and why you’re trying to achieve it. 

So, why are you reaching out to the donor? Why now? Why should they give right now as opposed to some date in the future?

This may be a good place to recap for your fundraising writer what your fundraising goal is for the campaign or even for the year. This would be a good place to let your writer know if there’s a matching element that you want to promote to the audience to inspire them to contribute to your nonprofit.  

Now that you know the four things you must include, here are a few extra things you can include in this document:

  • Background and history of the organization. Write out why your organization was started. You may also want to include some major milestones and some of your biggest accomplishments.
  • What makes your organization unique. What do you do that no other organization does? Having this information can do wonders for a freelancer as it gives them a real glimpse into your organization.

If there are any phrases you don’t want the fundraising appeals to include, make sure you include this—as well as any other communications preferences they should know about—in the document. 

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside some of the best fundraising writers in the country. What I have learned is that too often we assume that a writer either already has or knows the information needed to produce an effective appeal. 

The reality is, they can’t read your mind. This is especially true when you hire consultants who aren’t familiar with your organization. Your fundraising writer will appreciate the context, and it will give them valuable insights to help them do an outstanding job communicating with your donors. 

Remember: It’s your job to set them up for success. Give them the tools and information they need, and you’ll be on your way to securing more donations. 

Schedule a live demo with our partner Bloomerang, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.

Filed Under:   Communication