Lean Stream

3 Most Important Elements of a Fundraising Appeal

It is no secret that schools rely heavily on donor dollars to provide more resources and better education for students. Without the extra funds that come from fundraisers, schools can simply not successfully deliver on their mission.  

So, what motivates people to give out their hard-earned money to schools? How do they choose from the hundreds of schools that need help?

Well, it all comes down to the fundraising appeal. This is the first thing that connects you to a potential donor. It’s where you describe your cause, demonstrate to prospects its importance, and convince donors that money will be used for the right reasons.

In this article, we will break down the three most important elements of a fundraising appeal. 

But First, What Is A Fundraising Appeal?

A fundraising appeal is simply a way of asking for financial support from donors. It is typically a one-page letter sent electronically or via direct mail. It explains why you are holding the fundraiser and how the recipient (donor) can help. Fundraising appeals can be sent a few months before the fundraising drive, during a special campaign, or periodically throughout the year depending on your fundraising needs.

There are multiple ways to customize your appeal and make it mirror your school’s values. Let’s look at the most important components that will make the appeal more effective.

1. Empathy

You no doubt care about your school and delivering your mission. You are emotionally invested in the cause. This is exactly what you want from the donor. If the donor cares about the cause, they will want to donate. As such, you need to show them that they are solving something by contributing. You can do this by making the donor the center of the story. Make them the hero.

How do you achieve that? For starters, use ‘you’ twice as much as ‘we’ or ‘I’. ‘We’ or ‘I’ focuses more on your school while the ‘you’ focuses on the donor, making the donor the main character in the narrative.

Here is an example of a donor-centric appeal:

“Last year, you made it possible with your generous donation. You have been with us through this important campaign and we are happy that you are still here, making sure our children have enough school supplies and technological resources.”

Check out more ‘you’ focused sentences that you can use in the appeal:

  • Your contribution will make this possible
  • We rely on you to help feed students who are struggling with food insecurity.
  • You are our esteemed partner and your contribution is highly appreciated.
  • None of this would be possible without your support.

By making the appeal all about the donor, you will have made a strong case for support while giving the donor reasons to write that check.

2. Focus on the Impact of Donations

Donors also want to know how past drives have impacted your fundraisers’ goals. You, therefore, need to connect donations to donors. Everyone who gives their money to charity wants to know that they made an impact. When crafting your appeal, tell the donor how past donations have enabled you to accomplish your mission.

Donors want success and impact stories. While at it, show them how their contribution will continue positively impacting your mission. 

You can do this by connecting stories with facts/figures. The donor wants to see that your school has held successful and impactful fundraisers in the past. They want to hear how you managed to buy laptops, tablets, books, or musical instruments for students. However, you need to tie the figures and facts with emotional responses.

For example:

“Together with our supporters, we have done impactful work in our school. Their kind donations made it possible to provide 50 students from less privileged neighborhoods with laptops. With your help, we can make it 80 students this year.”

You just found a way of putting life into the numbers. With this new information, donors will know that they are supporting individuals whose lives have been changed by their generous contributions. They will be emotionally hooked which will persuade them to be a part of the cause. This is a useful strategy in all your fundraising strategy, but even more impactful in your appeal.

3. Create a Sense of Urgency

You have already taken your prospective donor on an emotional journey. They know the impact their contribution is likely to make. They know they will be heroes for contributing. However, don’t ‘allow’ your donor to think ‘I can always donate later’. Use a deadline to create a sense of urgency. Let them know it would be best if they donated ASAP or give them a specific date.


“It is only two weeks before our students report to school. However, a good number of them are not well prepared for success. They have no access to certain resources and other important schools’ supplies. They will be walking to class without these essential commodities, like a soldier going into battle with no weapon. With your $15 donation, we can change this situation for the better. You can put these students in a better position to pursue their dreams. However, you need to act now! There are children in need.”

Don’t forget to keep your appeal short. Assume the donor is likely to skip to the last part of the appeal to know exactly what you want from them. Capture the most important part of the appeal at the bottom and where applicable, in bold. 

Use the following tips to make the end part of the appeal stand out. 

  • Please donate $20 to put a book in a child’s warm hands.
  • Kindly donate goods before November 30th!
  • Your contribution keeps a child in school.

Final Word

We hope the above tips will help you write a convincing appeal that will set off on your journey to secure funds from your supporters. 

As always, feel free to contact our support team if you have any questions about how LeanStream can help you fulfill your school’s mission to improve the quality of our students’ education. We look forward to hearing from you. Also, take a peek at our fundraising solutions and let’s walk this journey together.