Jesse Stein

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handwritten notes for fundraising

As anyone who has ever attempted to solicit donations knows, the process can be quite challenging. To be successful, you need to find a way to differentiate yourself and make a personal connection with potential donors. One of the best ways to do this is by sending handwritten notes. 

A handwritten note takes time and effort to craft, and it shows you’re truly invested in the cause. In addition, it gives you the opportunity to add a personal touch that can make all the difference. Executed properly, a handwritten note can be an invaluable tool in your fundraising arsenal.

Types of Handwritten Notes for Fundraising

There are a variety of handwritten fundraising notes companies out there, but not all offer the same end product. Some choose to print notes with a handwriting-style font. Others choose to print signatures on typed note. Then, there are the handwritten notes for fundraising services that offer so much more.

Printed to Resemble Handwriting

In this type of donation request letter the message is printed on paper or cardstock with a font that’s been created to mimic human handwriting. Some commonly used examples of handwriting fonts include Moonstone, Wonderland, and Homemade Apple, but there are hundreds more. 

These fonts definitely create an end product that, from far away, looks like it was handwritten. Unfortunately, up close the facade fades. Printed ink doesn’t smudge like an ink pen.

Every character a human writes isn’t exactly the same, and no one can write in perfectly perpendicular lines. Printed handwriting shows no errors, so it can’t possibly look authentically human.

Printed Signature on a Typed Note

When writing a fundraising letter, a more old-school way of trying to pass off a generic note as a personalized message is to “sign” a typed note. This option is slightly more effective than the note printed to look like handwriting. However, that’s only because the “writing” is contained to a name. 

It looks like someone personally signed a note, at first glance, but the printed ink won’t smudge and there are no tell-tale signs of pen on paper. Overall, this isn’t the best option and it won’t fool people, but it could cause them to get a bad feeling about you when they realize the note isn’t really signed.

Automated Handwritten Notes That Use Real Pens

The cream of the crop in handwritten notes for fundraising are written using AI-driven pen plotters programmed to write human-looking messages with all the errors and mistakes you’d expect. The handwritten notes are written with a real ink pen, so they smear when rubbed.

None of the characters are exactly the same and spacing between characters, words, and lines resembles a human touch rather than an AI-generated handwritten note. Automated handwritten notes for fundraising that use real pens and authentic-looking writing have the greatest success and lead to more donations.

Why are Handwritten Notes for Fundraising so Effective?

Handwritten notes just work. Some say it’s because people are tired of electronic messages. Others believe it’s the personalization that makes the difference. There’s definitely no shortage of guesses, but what do we know for a fact?

Before we go any further, let’s talk shortly about why handwritten notes for fundraising are so effective! 

Handwritten Notes Are More Likely To Be Opened And Read

Open and read rates are the percentages of recipients who interact with the handwritten note for fundraising. Higher open and read rates mean more people are accessing your message. There are many factors that impact these rates including material, ink, and creative quality. 

The average open and read rates for direct mail is around 25%. Fundera says highly effective direct mail campaigns, think handwritten notes, are opened 90% of the time. The Journal of Services Marketing offers, “Handwritten messages are more effective than print messages in building relationships in a service context because they elicit stronger feelings of warmth because of both the perception of greater effort and feelings of greater psychological closeness to the service provider.”

Decision-Makers Receive Handwritten Envelopes

This is one of the best features of handwritten notes for fundraising that’s especially important when reaching out to companies. Business mail is sorted, sometimes several times before reaching a company’s decision makers at the top. But, why do handwritten notes make it through all the sorting?

The people sorting through the mail aren’t familiar with everyone the company head knows, so they can’t throw away a handwritten note. It could be a message from a friend, colleague, or family member, to name a few. But, whoever it’s from, that handwritten note for fundraising is making it into the hands of the people holding the purse strings.

People Need Human Contact Since Mailboxes Are Empty

The people who oversee the United States Postal Service share that the average household receives as few as 10 handwritten mail pieces a year. Compare that to 100+ messages a day (or 36,500 a year) for emails and you see the problem. 

People are overwhelmed by electronic communications. And this isn’t just happening with an older demographic. The USPS Office of the Inspector General claims, “75% of Millennials say receiving mail makes them feel special.” Just because we’re living in an age of technology doesn’t mean people don’t want the warmth and connection that come with a handwritten note for fundraising. 

Handwritten Notes Are Usually Saved

When was the last time you received a handwritten note or card? When you opened it you took notice of the card graphic and how perfect it was for the situation. When you read it you were captured by emotion at the thought that someone wrote this note specifically for you. And, like the rest of us, when you were finished reading the handwritten note you keep it someplace safe or display it on a counter, table, or desk. 

That’s exactly what people do with handwritten notes for fundraising. The awesome thing about that is people walking by have the opportunity to pick up the card and admire it. Then, the thought crosses their minds, “Maybe I should give to the organization as well!” This display and subsequent action are based on word-of mouth-marketing and it’s effective and free.

Establish Trust And Value

The relationship you have with potential donors will directly impact whether they donate to the organization or not. You’re, of course, competing against other trusted organizations, but that’s not all. 

People tend to share bad experiences with friends, family, and online platforms much more often than good experiences. Consumers hold on to these deep feelings and, subconsciously, they hold other organizations up against them. 

Your job is to establish trust with recipients and to do so you have to go against the best and worst out there today. Your organization needs to stand out for all the right reasons and do things so different from everyone else your handwritten notes for fundraising are opened more often, read more often, trusted more often, and acted upon more often.

What Should a Handwritten Notes Service Offer?

This move from digital marketing to direct mail marketing is a significant step for many organizations; especially non-profit organizations. First off, working with handwritten notes for fundraising means putting in the time and money to create the perfect contact list and send handwritten notes targeted to that list. 

When an organization puts money into a fundraising campaign hoping to earn donations, they want to choose a service that offers the best all-around experience.

Quality Materials

The material quality is wildly important when sending handwritten notes for fundraising. The card stock needs to be thick; at least 100-lb weight. The envelope should be between 70-lb and 80-lb weight. And, the ink pen needs to flow smoothly over the cardstock and smudge when rubbed. 

Using poor-quality materials when creating handwritten notes for fundraising can literally hinder the campaign’s results. You may reach as many people, but it won’t have that quality look and feel that convinces consumers to act on the message. 

Handwriting Styles

Every organization is its own brand. The brand is recognized by things like colors and lettering. The best handwritten notes for fundraising need to be customized with a handwriting style that matches the company brand persona. It’s all about familiarity.

The more people associate things like handwriting style with your business, the stronger your brand because every time they see that writing they’ll remember you. 

But, the problem lies with selection. Many handwritten notes services offer only a few styles to choose from. That doesn’t give companies enough options, especially if they can’t find one that matches the look and feel they’re going for. 

The best handwritten notes services offer between 5 and 10 styles – or more.


Handwritten notes for fundraising are so effective, in part, because they are personalized to a specific individual. Those quality materials and handwriting styles mean nothing if the recipient opens the note and finds an introduction that says, “Hi Donor!”

Those two words scream mass mailing. It looks like all the organization did was stuff a bunch of envelopes with the same generic message. It really is a waste of handwritten notes if they can’t be extensively personalized.

With individualization, you can create a handwritten notes campaign that sends personalized, recipient-specific messages. So, the handwriting style isn’t the only way handwritten notes pass as being written by a human, so is the personalization of the content included in the message.

Handwritten notes services worth anything in this business offer detailed and comprehensive options for personalizing your notes for fundraising.

Handwritten Envelope With a Forever Stamp

The average stamp is about 1-inch by 1-inch. How can something so small have such a considerable impact on the outcome of handwritten notes for fundraising campaigns? And, why does the envelope need to be handwritten – isn’t that overkill?

That’s the thing with handwritten notes for fundraising. Many, many organizations send out flyers asking for donations for a variety of causes. You need your donation request to stand out. Actually, you don’t want it to look anything like a donation request, that’s why the open and read rates for handwritten notes are so high – because of that overkill. 

Ask yourself, what will the recipient see when they take your note out of the mailbox? Will they see a printed envelope with digital postage just like every other attempt at fundraising or will they see an envelope that’s been written by hand with a Forever stamp? The first option says mass mailer. The second says someone cared enough to send a handwritten message.

Process Turnaround Time

Let’s talk about process turnaround time with an example. Imagine:

You’re holding a special event in a week and your organization is short a few hundred dollars for last-minute needs. You decide to send out handwritten notes for some fast fundraising so you sign up with any old service and start your order. After tons of work, you’re told the order will take a week to process. Well, that doesn’t work because the event is in a week. 

High-end handwritten note providers offer fast turnaround times without cutting into the quality of the end product. The best turnaround times we’ve seen are less than two days from start to send. 

Scalability Options

One good problem to have with handwritten notes for fundraising is a campaign being more effective than you expected. Say you sent out 100 fundraising letters that led to 50 significant donations. 

You’ve never had that kind of result before, so you decide to increase the number of notes you send next month.  A handwritten notes service needs to offer scalability options so you can grow your campaign exactly as you want to. 

The same needs to happen if you have to downgrade your plan. For instance, if marketing funds are shorter one month, you should have the option to send fewer cards. Handwritten notes for fundraising are not a one-size-fits-all type of marketing.

No Hidden Costs

This is a feature we expect from all handwritten notes services, but we’re often reminded that not all companies are created the same. The price you’re quoted or the price you see on the website needs to be the price you’re going to pay – all in. 

There’s something sneaky about a service advertising one price only to add on hidden fees at the end that increase the total. For instance, a company quotes $3 per handwritten note so $300 for 100 notes.

You start the process of signing up and when you get to the checkout page there’s a $2 per note surcharge. That boosts your cost to $500 for 100 notes. Hidden fees are the practice of companies that don’t respect clients or consumers.

Capacity To Include Collateral

Collateral, in handwritten notes for fundraising, can include a flyer, brochure, business card, and many others. If you’re hiring a handwritten notes service and you want to include your business card with each note, how does that happen?

Forward-thinking handwritten notes companies offer to warehouse and stuff collateral into notes for the client. All you have to do is ship what you want to include to the service and they take care of the rest. 

Client Manager

When ordering handwritten notes for fundraising you’re going to need help to get started. Often services will assign a client manager or account manager to each client. But, we’ve learned that some services bounce clients around to one manager after another without regard for building a relationship with the client. 

That’s awfully backward thinking. You’re sending handwritten notes for fundraising to build a relationship with donors, but the handwritten service providing the notes doesn’t advocate for client/company relationship building. 

When an account manager is assigned to a client they can learn about the business, bond with the client, track notes campaigns and help start new campaigns. The handwritten notes service needs to practice what it sells.

Tips for Getting the Best Traction with Handwritten Marketing

Just because you send handwritten notes for fundraising doesn’t mean you can just throw something together and shoot it out into the world. You need the notes to capture the attention of the recipient and guide them down the funnel to your donation page. To do that, you need to keep a few things in mind.

Dedicate Time To Researching A Target Audience

Do you know who your target audience is? Have you researched the features of people who’re most apt to react to your message? Imagine a scenario:

Sam’s Tots, a toy store, is running a sale on the latest fancy doll. Sam has two choices; he can send handwritten notes to 100 retirees, or 100 young parents. Which should Sam choose? If you said the 100 parents you’re correct.

The retirees are way less likely to be interested in a fancy new doll, but young parents have children at home – the perfect target audience. The same applies to fundraising campaigns. When you narrow your audience you save money and get more traction.

Take the time to do in-depth research into consumer behavior, demographics, age, socioeconomic status, and more. Narrow target markets will always return better gains than a spray and pray campaign. 

Not Every Note Should Seek A Sale

There’s a rule established centuries ago in Italy called the 80/20 rule. Originally the rule stood for the fact that 20% of Italy held 80% of the country’s wealth. In marketing, it says 80% of the communications you have with your audience need to be strictly informative. The other 20% can focus on selling. 

Why wouldn’t you just send sales messages 100% of the time? People get burnt out from being hammered by companies who want sales, sales, sales. What happens then is the audience you’re communicating with will grow deaf to your message and eventually stop following you altogether. And, in many cases, consumers will pass along bad experiences with companies to friends, family, and social media, which doesn’t bode well for your business. 

Always Include a QR Code

QR codes hold information that can be accessed by snapping a picture of the image with a cell phone. You can think of the codes as marketing GPS. You have the ability to program any destination into the QR code. 

Want to take the handwritten note recipient to a specific landing page – got it!

Want to send them to a detailed bio for your company – got it!

Want to offer a 25% off coupon – got that too!

There is no limit to the ways you can use QR codes to direct the recipient of handwritten notes to where you want them to go along the buyer journey. 

When using handwritten notes for fundraising that same QR code can lead to a simple donation page where patrons can choose to give to your organization. It’s also a great way to gauge the performance of handwritten notes because you can track the number of QR code scans.

Free Templates – Handwritten Notes for Fundraising

Let’s go through some handwritten notes for fundraising templates and samples. Feel free to use these as-is, or make changes to better fit your campaign. 

Donation Requests

Dear [],

I’m writing to ask for your donation to our fundraising campaign. We’re raising money for [cause] and your donation would go a long way towards helping us reach our goal. Every little bit helps, and we’d be very grateful for any donation you can give.

Thank you for your time and consideration.





Dear [],

I‘m writing to ask for your support. We’re a non-profit organization dedicated to helping those in need, and we rely on donations from people like you to keep our work going. Every donation helps us provide vital services to more people, and we’re very grateful for your support.

If you’re able to make a donation, please visit our website. Thank you for your kindness and generosity.




Thank You For the Donation

Dear [],

Thank you so much for your donation. Your generosity is greatly appreciated and will make a difference in the lives of those we serve. With your help, we’ll be able to continue our important work with [cause] and make a positive impact in our community.

Thank you again for your support. We are truly grateful.





Dear [],

Thank you so much for your donation. Your generosity is truly appreciated. We are constantly amazed by the outpouring of support from our community for [cause].

Thank you for being a part of that and for helping us to continue the important work we do. With your help, we’re able to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most. 

Thank you again, from the bottom of our hearts, for your donation. It’s truly appreciated.




Use Handwritten Marketing to Your Advantage

Asking for donations can be tricky- no one wants to seem pushy or greedy. However, with a little planning and finesse, it’s possible to successfully solicit donations. One important tip is to send handwritten notes. This personal touch shows you’re willing to take the time to write a thoughtful message, rather than just sending a generic form letter. 

Another important tip is to be clear about how the funds will be used. Donors want to know their money is going to a good cause, so be sure to explain how the funds will be used in a concrete way. 

Finally, it’s important to remember that people are more likely to donate if they feel a personal connection to the cause. So take the time to build relationships with potential donors and let them know why their support is important to you. By following these tips, you can increase your chances of successfully asking for donations.