Fundraising » Fundraising Letters

Are Your Fundraising Donation Request Letters Too Long?

Casanova never penned a one-page love letter. So neither should you.

I write fundraising letters for some of the most well-known non-profits in North America, and not one of them has ever hired me to write a one-page fundraising letter. They know from testing that donors read two-page letters. And four-page letters. Even eight-page letters. Donors read what interests them, and not a word more.

Why would any fundraiser believe that her donors will not read a letter that's longer than a few paragraphs? Why do fundraisers believe that donors don't want to read what they have to say?

I don't know.

But I do know that donors are just like you and me. They read what interests them. They read People magazine cover to cover (dozens of pages). They read the Wall Street Journal (thousands of words). They read page after page on They read International Steel Review. They read Danielle Steel. Many of your donors read all day. They read what they have to and they read what they want to.

Your donors will read your appeal letters when your appeal letters are compelling, dramatic and interesting. They will read your letters front and back, and even turn to page three if you have one, when you give your donors a reason to read and a cause to believe.

When you have a compelling case for support, your donors want to read about it. My experience, and the experience of leading charities worldwide, is that you can rarely present your case dramatically, and tell your story with vivid human-interest stories, on one side of a sheet alone.

If your donors won't read any more than a few paragraphs of what you have to say, then you don't have an attention-span problem. You have a branding problem, a credibility problem, or a reason-for-being problem. And you can't remedy that lack by keeping your remarks to one page. Make your case for support something that donors long to get behind and they will long to read your long letters.

About the author
Alan Sharpe is a direct mail fundraising copywriter, consultant and coach, and author of Breakthrough Fundraising Letters. Sign up for free weekly tips like this, and discover other helpful resources, at

2007 Sharpe Copy Inc. You may reprint this article online and in print provided the links remain live and the content remains unaltered (including the "About the author" message).