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 fundraiser event however, that may not always be the best use of one’s time.

A direct donor letter can actually be cost-effective when appealing to a larger number of donors, especially in a time of social distancing and limited gatherings.

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

1. Know Who You’re Mailing

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

Wiil your letter be going to family and friends?

Will it be going to a list of known donors?

A certain demographic or profession, like veterans or lawyers?

All of the above?

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

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 reader’s attention and quick.

Whether it’s your logo, a quote from a supporter, or something at the top 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.

In my experience, keep direct fundraising letters to no more than 2 pages, printed front to back.

4. The Message

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 you plan to use their donation, and why you are the candidate who will win.

Example: “Dear Friend. 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.

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 ones you’ve received.

You don’t want your fundraising letter 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. Credit Card information. If you do not have a credit card system set up, get one! More donors are choosing to donate with credit cards, especially if they decide to contribute online.
  4. Disclaimer. Always make sure you have the proper and required disclaimer for the office you are seeking on your donation page.

7.  Proof Read

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

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

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.