The job of the smart fundraiser is inspiring passionate philanthropy to make people’s lives better. No one ever really teaches us how to write a smart fundraising appeal. We copy from our predecessors. Or maybe read an article or two online or attend a webinar on the subject. Sadly, there’s a lot of bad advice out there.

The truth is writing a compelling fundraising appeal can be tricky. It’s not the same kind of writing as a brochure, annual report or grant proposal. But it’s not rocket science – it’s something you can easily learn.

A serviceable appeal is something that will raise first-time and habitual gifts at moderate levels. Better than nothing. But, not the best you can do. A serviceable appeal won’t inspire passionate, loyal, sustainable philanthropy so your mission can really thrive.

Use these tips as an outline as you write your appeal. Or as a checklist if you’ve already completed one.You can use these tips for all fundraising appeal messaging, not just direct mail. So look also at email, social media, texts, newsletters and website campaign and donation landing page copy.