Tutorial for “Write a Fundraising Letter”

Tips

Fundraising letters demand exceptional sensitivity. They must be credible and persuasive without being manipulative or high-handed. Help the reader want to give from genuine caring rather than from pressure or guilt. Explain how the reader's contribution will improve your cause, rather than commenting on the negative results if he or she doesn't contribute. Avoid using expressions that may be interpreted as harassing, moralizing, or preachy. Help the reader see the benefit at each point in the letter. Keep the focus positive.

Steps

1. Open with a statement that catches the reader's attention.

Sentences

  • You are among the truly loyal friends of Doe Conservatory whose generosity has meant so much to disadvantaged students.
  • You are cordially invited to a gala evening of song and dance at the Prospector's Palace, Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. This annual event is our way of raising funds for the missionaries serving in Somalia.
  • I am writing on behalf of those Doe College students who may not be able to finish their schooling because of financial setbacks.
  • This is an invitation to lift a disadvantaged child to the heights you and I take for granted.
  • We are delighted to report that your gift last year made it possible for three little girls to attend summer camp.
  • It's true! We are finally going to build a new library for our kids!
  • We are excited that so many have helped us come so close to our goal of raising one million dollars.
  • As an alumnus of Doe College who participated in several of our musical productions, wouldn't you gain much personal satisfaction in helping us strengthen our music program even further.
  • Time is running out on our goal to buy emergency equipment at the lowest price of the decade.
  • It's a shame when bright kids don't have access to good books, but together we can change that.
  • It has been a sobering experience for all of us at the university to hear of the misfortune of our dear colleague John Doe.
  • Winter will soon be upon us, and many of our citizens will have no place to keep warm.

Phrases

  • a moving experience
  • a sobering experience
  • an unforgettable experience
  • are delighted to report
  • are excited that
  • are finally going to
  • are cordially invited to
  • because of financial setbacks
  • believe that you would gain
  • concerned people like you
  • have meant so much to
  • how much we appreciate
  • is our dream for
  • is an invitation to
  • look forward to a day when
  • made it possible for
  • make the difference between
  • on behalf of those
  • one of our loyal friends
  • our way of raising funds for
  • so close to our goal
  • so many have helped
  • time is running out
  • together we can

2. If necessary, identify your organization and explain its purpose and activities.

Sentences

  • We are an ad hoc committee who, as students, personally benefited from contributions such as yours. We help the alumni association gather funds to help others who now follow us.
  • Mission Possible is a nonprofit organization in its tenth year of providing summer occupational training for disadvantaged youths.
  • We are Springfield County's emergency medical technicians and we have organized a task force to secure some much needed equipment.
  • A group from the English department has organized a committee to receive funds to help defray John's skyrocketing medical expenses.
  • The Doe Foundation coordinates all contributions to the University, so not every department that needs help will contact you.
  • The Civic Action Committee is a group of concerned citizens who volunteer their time to help those who have become homeless.

Phrases

  • a nonprofit organization
  • an organization of volunteers
  • are succeeding in making a difference
  • concerned citizens like you
  • donate our time to
  • for the past twenty years
  • for a much needed
  • for the disadvantaged
  • have established a foundation
  • have no doubt heard of our
  • have organized a committee to
  • have personally benefited from
  • have organized a
  • hearts have been touched by
  • to give something back to
  • to help others
  • to help defray the
  • to raise funds for
  • volunteer our time to
  • were responsible for

3. Explain the urgent need for which contributions will be used. Be specific.

Sentences

  • We will use your contribution to buy new instruments for our beginning students.
  • The money contributed will be used to complete and equip a medical clinic that our missionaries are building for the local population.
  • The rapidly rising cost of tuition is preventing lower income students from enrolling. The money raised in this campaign will be used for tuition scholarships for qualified students with financial hardships.
  • Budget cuts have left us with no money to buy current texts for our students. We will use the money you contribute to purchase such texts so our students can continue to compete in our fast-paced world.
  • We will be buying two-way radios and state-of-the-art resuscitation equipment for each of the county's ambulances.
  • Your contribution will help us buy 200 sleeping bags for the homeless in our community.
  • Your help will allow us to complete the south wing of the library, which will house children's books and other educational resources.

Phrases

  • an urgent need for
  • are proud to say that
  • can specify where
  • desperately need help
  • every dollar you donate goes towards
  • help people help themselves by
  • make every penny count
  • makes such a large difference
  • receive no funding from
  • the entire amount will
  • where financial hardship prevents
  • will allow us to
  • will make all the difference for
  • will not be used for
  • will help us to
  • will open the way for
  • will change the outlook for
  • will use the funds to
  • will all be used for
  • your contribution will
  • your donation will provide
  • your help will

4. Tell what your organization or efforts have already accomplished. It helps to relate personal success stories and present statistics.

Sentences

  • With contributions from alumni like you, we have been able to provide musical instruction for over 200 children who otherwise would have never had this exposure. Ten students who started in this program have gone on to major in music at the university.
  • Emergency teams who have used this equipment have documented a 25% reduction in fatalities due to heart attack.
  • You may recall the two boys who visited our congregation after receiving life-saving medical help in the clinic. Your contribution helped make that possible. We hope we can give the same gift to many others.
  • The help that contributors gave last year made it possible for 25 homeless persons to receive job training. Twenty of them are now employed and are able to pay rent.
  • Your contributions for textbooks last year made it possible for every math student to have a book to take home, rather than having to share it at school.

Phrases

  • are so grateful for
  • caring people like you
  • each individual that
  • each small triumph
  • even though there is
  • extend this gift to
  • has allowed us to
  • have achieved so much
  • have been able to
  • hope we can
  • how can we express
  • is heartwarming to
  • made it possible for
  • make this possible
  • may recall the
  • much more to be done
  • otherwise would never have
  • such a huge difference to
  • with the help of
  • with your help
  • your past contributions helped

5. Explain what benefit will come to the person who contributes: personal satisfaction, benefits to family, an invitation to an event, membership in an elite group, a tax deduction, a gift etc.

Sentences

  • We know that those who contribute are rewarded with a satisfaction that money can't buy.
  • Of course, we all recognize that it is really our children that will benefit from our generosity at this critical time.
  • As a token of our appreciation we will send an autographed CD or a book by our resident baritone.
  • Knowing that you have helped a suffering person have an abundant life is a great feeling.
  • By contributing you will become a member of our Friends of Music Club, which will entitle you to have first choice seating for the 2002 concert series.
  • Your contribution is, of course, tax deductible. Please keep your receipt.
  • We will list all donors in our financial aids booklet, unless they ask to be excluded.
  • The names of all donors will appear on a plaque at the theater entrance.
  • Each donor will have his or her name engraved on a brick in the path leading to the entrance of the museum.

Phrases

  • all recognize that
  • consult your tax-advisor
  • donation may be tax-deductible
  • greatest reward will be
  • have the reward of knowing
  • have the satisfaction of
  • is no feeling quite like
  • know the joy of
  • know that you will
  • knowing that you have helped
  • opportunity to change a life
  • our true beneficiaries are all those who
  • reward lies in knowing that
  • that money cannot buy
  • token of our appreciation for
  • will benefit from our generosity
  • will send you reports on
  • will become a member of
  • will entitle you to
  • will be listed in our

6. If necessary, reassure the reader of your organization's credibility and that you will use the contributions effectively.

Sentences

  • Since we are a volunteer organization, all contributions are used for the express purpose for which they have been given.
  • Checking with the local authorities will confirm that 98% of the donated funds reach their intended destination. Only 2% is used to administer the program.
  • Each year we publish a financial report of contributions and their uses. We will be happy to provide you with that report upon request.
  • We invite you to visit our class at any time to see firsthand the benefits of your contribution.
  • We will send you the names of those students who receive help from your contributions.

Phrases

  • a volunteer organization
  • administrative and fund-raising costs
  • all contributions are
  • are applied to our programs
  • call for a copy of
  • every penny we receive
  • for a copy of our latest financial report
  • for a complete breakdown of
  • happy to cooperate
  • invite you to
  • is good to be cautious
  • keep our costs down by
  • need to be accountable to
  • our income and expenditures
  • please write to
  • see for yourself
  • understand the need for
  • very low administrative costs
  • visit our offices
  • visit one of our
  • will be happy to provide you with

7. Enclose a postage-paid envelope for the contributor's convenience, or explain an alternate way to make a contribution.

Sentences

  • Every contribution helps! We have enclosed a stamped pledge envelope for your convenience.
  • You may contribute by check or by credit card. Simply indicate your preferred choice on the pledge card and return it in the envelope provided.
  • If you wish, you may call in your pledge at 555-5555.
  • You may send your pledge in the enclosed envelope, or charge it for easy payment on your credit card by calling 555-5555.
  • If you prefer to make your contribution through payroll deduction, call 555-5555.
  • Call now and live with the satisfaction that you have lifted another's life.

Phrases

  • ask your employer about
  • can effectively double your
  • does your employer have
  • even the smallest contribution helps
  • have enclosed a
  • if you would prefer
  • if you wish
  • make your pledge by phone or mail
  • matching your donation
  • may contribute by
  • no matter what size
  • our matching funds program
  • pay in installments
  • please indicate your choice on
  • postage paid envelope
  • return your donation in the
  • stamped, preaddressed envelope
  • use your credit card
  • your preferred choice
  • your stamp adds to your donation

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