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8 Ways to Embed Community-Centric Fundraising Principles in Your Appeals

Phrase 'Passion Led Us Here' printed on sidewalk

Fundraising appeals, written invitations to give money to your mission, are a foundational fundraising tool. They are a way to share your mission and what it takes to achieve your mission with many supporters at once. And they can be a stable source of contributed revenue.


We’ve found fundraising appeals to be most effective when they are grounded in your organization’s values and guided by the community you serve.


  1. Use your appeal as an opportunity to share how your organization lives its values. If you value collaboration, write about the ways you partner with others in the community to fulfill your mission. If you value activism, tell the stories of the people demonstrating in the streets and showing up at the capitol.

  2. Ask the people you serve what they want donors to know – and then tell it to your donors. Take advantage of opportunities to connect directly with service users or check in with a colleague who works with service users and ask them what they think community members want donors to know.

  3. Highlight people's strengths, skills, and agency with their consent. Take care to present their complexity and wholeness. Use people-first language. Avoid reducing anyone to the problems they've faced.

  4. Demonstrate that you value all the people who are working to achieve your mission – program participants, staff, volunteers, donors. Name the staff member who directly works with a service user you feature. Quote a volunteer sharing why they give their time. Talk about the steps your organization is taking to ensure your staff is well-compensated and cared for.

  5. Position your organization in the ecosystem of people and organization’s working to make the community better. Name your partners and tell your supporters where they can go to learn more. Ask your service users.

  6. Point out the systems at play to help your donors understand that the problem you’re addressing is not caused by individual choices or behaviors, but by larger forces that require collective action and solidarity. If you’re providing shelter for people experiencing homelessness, write about the housing shortage. If you’re helping children learn to read, write about the opportunity gaps in our educational systems.

  7. Treat donors as partners and demonstrate how the whole community is stronger because the community is working together. You can do this by using 'we' language when you talk about solutions and by making sure your donors can see themselves as part of the story (not the heroes of it). For example, "Your gift joins with many other gifts from people who care. Together we can create change."

  8. Be authentic. Use your own voice with words like, "I invite you to join us again this year to be part of our community of change-makers." Make sure your message feels like a two-way conversation, not just a transaction.


Start with your values and center your community and your appeals will move more money to mission. We’ve seen it happen over and over again.


We can help you get started. In Values-Based Appeals, we’ve packaged our proven appeal method, letter and email templates, tips, and group coaching so you can craft an effective appeal with greater ease and joy.


Want even more Values-Based Fundraising? Schedule your free 15-minute consultation now.


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