7 Essentials of a Winning Campaign Fundraising Letter

Raising money is the crux of any political campaign, but most candidates dread the thought of asking for money.

Many candidates think they need to hold a fundraising event. However, that may not always be the best use of your time.

A direct donor letter can be cost-effective when appealing to a larger number of donors.

And with so many campaigns relentlessly sending fundraising emails, an old fashioned letter will actually make you and your campaign stand out.

Here are seven essential elements of a successful campaign fundraising letter.

1. Know Who You Are Mailing

The first step in developing a direct fundraising letter asking for campaign donations is figuring who the letter is going to.

Will your letter be going to family and friends?

Will it be going to a list of known donors?

Will it be going to certain demographic or profession, like veterans or lawyers?

Will it be going out to a much broader list with all of the above and more?

2. The Envelope Please

The envelope is perhaps one of the most important but often overlooked components of your letter.

Think about when you pick up your mail. What grabs your attention?

Remember:  You are not only competing against other political opponents, you are also competing against credit card offers, bills, junk mail and other businesses trying to grab your attention.

IMPORTANT: Always use a first-class stamp on your fundraising letters!

A presorted or bulk stamp envelope typically means you are selling something and often winds up in the trash unopened.

If possible, hand address each envelope.

Yes, this can be difficult with a mass mailing, but the more personal the letter can be the better chance you have at getting a response.

3. The Letter Itself

They’ve opened the envelope. Now what?

In today’s world of social media scrolling, breaking news, and headlines it’s important to capture the voter’s attention and quick.

Whether it’s your logo, a quote from a supporter, or something at the top of the letterhead that grabs the reader’s attention, you increase your chances of the donor actually reading the letter!

Many “experts” will suggest the longer the letter is, the more money you will receive.

They clearly have the data to back it up, but you should do your best to keep your direct fundraising letters to no more than 2 pages, printed front to back.

4. The Message Within

You will need to determine what message you want to convey to your potential donors.

Your appeal should always include why you need their support, how your campaign plans to use their donation, and why you are the candidate who will win.

Example: “Dear Brian, You have supported me previously and I am grateful for your help. However, my opponent just went on the air attacking me personally and I must respond immediately.”

Use the 7 Key Elements of a Winning Political Campaign Message and include that in your fundraising letter.

The only difference in messaging here is that instead of asking voters to cast their ballots for you, you’re asking donors to send money to your campaign.

Also, if your target audience for the letter is a narrow, specific group, the message within the body of the letter should be tailored to them.

5. Your Signature

No matter how many letters go out, always make time to sign each one.

If the donor is willing to read your letter, a personal signature is a must!

Scanned or computer-generated signatures make letters look phony.

Think of the letters you’ve received.

You don’t want your fundraising appeal to come off as a form letter. Personally sign each one.

If you expect the recipient to take the time to sign a check to your campaign, you should be willing to sign the letter that’s asking for the money.

6. The Donation Form

Every time you mail a donor an invite or direct letter asking for money, you must include the following:

  1. The amount you are asking for. Provide a range of amounts and include a section for “other amount”
  2. Donor information. The FEC and many states require donors to disclose their name and occupation/employer. It can also be helpful for the campaign to keep records of things like phone numbers and emails
  3. Contribution Limits.  If there are limits on how much can be given in an election and/or prohibitions on which entities can contribute, include this information
  4. Online Fundraising Link. If you do not have an online fundraising service set up for your campaign, stop reading this and go get one! More donors are choosing to donate online rather than send campaigns checks.
  5. Disclaimer. Always make sure you have the proper and required disclaimer for the office you are seeking on your donation page.  You also should state that contributions to your campaign are not tax deductible.

7.  Proof Read

I cannot tell you how many candidates have sent out a direct mail letter to donors that contain grammar and spelling errors.

The last thing you want is a potential donor to send back your letter with corrections instead of a donation.

You should always have someone that has not seen the letter read it carefully for you.  They will likely catch things that you have missed.

Also, a good trick for proof reading your own materials is to read it from bottom to top.  This will break up the expected flow of the letter and help you catch mistakes you would most likely overlook.

Candidate Take-Aways

Don’t be intimidated by the task of fundraising.

Every candidate who really wants to win an election raises money.

Since you’re serious about winning, you’ll need to take the time and the mental commitment to fundraise.

If you’re doing it through the mail, which remains an effective way to raise campaign cash, you now know the seven key elements that make up a winning campaign fundraising letter.

Put them to practice in your campaign then go out there and raise the money you need to win.

Are you Ready to Jump Start Your Fundraising?

Writing a winning fundraising letter is just one component of successful political campaign fundraising

If you’re ready to learn more and take your political campaign fundraising to the next level, tap this link to get instant access to the Jump Start Your Fundraising premium course.