Fundraising Letters

One of the most effective tools for raising large amounts of money is the fundraising letter. You can use fundraising letters to request grants or endowments from institutions, to request donations from business and industry, or to inform members of the needs of your organization.

Before you write a fundraising letter…

Know why people give.
The simplistic answer is that people give to get. However, most people give for reasons that stem from emotion, not logic.

  1. To get satisfaction through involvement in a worthwhile activity
  2. To get satisfaction by helping to solve a common problem
  3. To get recognized for contributing to a cause.
The paradox of a fundraising letter is that nobody likes to be sold, but fundraising letters are sales letters. To be effective, your fundraising letter must sell your campaign in a way that makes donors feel that your organization recognizes their donation as an important contribution to solving a common problem. Think about your mail
Think about what you read and what you throw away. Then, structure your letter to be one that you would read if it was sent to you. Although fundraising letters are business letters, you want to write a friendly letter that turns donors into active allies for your cause. Parts of a fundraising letter
  1. Your Greeting- You only get one chance to make a good first impression and in a fundraising letter, that impression starts with your greeting. “Dear Sir or Madam” may sound businesslike but it is very impersonal. Likewise for “Dear Businessman”, “Dear Loyal Member”, and even “Dear Friend”. The objective is to make each donor an involved and contributing friend. If your letters are few, be sure to put a name in each greeting. If your list is long, start your letter with one cheerful word, “Greetings!”
  2. The Body- Telling your story. An effective sales technique is to:
    • Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Present your campaign in a positive light by beginning with a smile. Get them involved. Pay a compliment either here or in your next paragraph.
    • Tell them. Be brief, but be detailed. Most importantly stress what they “get”. Explain both your overall goal and how donors can help you achieve it. Let them know your time frame. Do ask the question, (i.e. “Can you help us?”). In addition, offer donation options like “supporter, subscriber, member and grantor” or “business, family, individual, student”. If there are many seniors on your list, senior is another good option as well.
    • Tell them what you told them. Again, summarize the problem, your proposal to solve it, and emphasize how their contribution is an important part of the solution.
  3. The Closing-
    • Include any pertinent contact information.
    • Remind them that you have enclosed an SASE (Self-addressed stamped letter).
    • Thank them for their support.
    • Leave them with a smile.
Use the free fundraising sample letter below as a template:

Sample Fundraising Letter Template:

From the condition of the church roof, it looks like we need to buy buckets, umbrellas, or shingles! I vote for shingles. How about you?

Seriously, though, the cedar shakes on St. Mary’s are in sorry shape. ABC Roofer’s has given us a low bid of $XX,XXX to replace the roof and can complete the job by Fall Festival. They plan on starting next April, which gives us six months to raise the money. We are counting on supportive members like you to help us reach our goal. Can you help us?

Although your name won’t appear on the roof, it will shine proudly on a plaque (to be mounted in the church vestibule) under the appropriate category. Every category is open to your donation. A suggested type of donation is in parentheses.

  • Platinum shingles: $500.00 + (business)
  • Gold shingles: $250.00 + (family)
  • Silver shingle: $100.00 + (individual)
  • Bronze shingle: $25.00 + (students & seniors)
  • Wood shingle: donations up to $25.00 and/or donations of time and talent.
We also have several fundraising events planned to help us “raise a new roof”. We believe that our events will result in improving the appearance of our church and also help us increase membership by showing the community that St. Mary’s is a vibrant parish of active Christians.

We’ve included a list of planned activities, donated goods that we need for our events, and of course a “shingle” for you to sign with your donation. Please return the shingle donation card along with your check in the enclosed envelope. If you have questions, concerns, or just want more details about buying a shingle or other fundraising events, please call me at 555-5555.

Your donation will not only help us close the gaps in our roof but also help us build a better bridge to our community! Thank you again for your continued (and much needed) support!

Kind Regards,

Your Name
Chairperson, St. Mary’s Building Committee

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