Successful fundraising begins with a poignant request for assistance. Whether you are soliciting funds for a charity or seeking donation items for an auction, you’ll only receive if you ask with respect. Eloquent fundraising letters will open doors for you and wallets for your cause.
Know Your Target
Become familiar with your demographic. Your time as fundraiser is valuable. Do not waste it by firing off missives to individuals and companies whose interest in your event is weak or to those who may be opposed to your cause.
Be Certain Your Contact List is Current
Take the time to call and confirm to whom you should write your request and verify the address. Do not rely on websites that may not be updated on a regular basis. It is especially important to verify your contact information when requesting support from a previous donor. Do not simply refer to last year’s letterhead. Securing a donation from an established contact should be the easiest part of your task. Do not miss an opportunity by misdirecting your request.
Write Two Versions and Save Time
If your cause is a new one you will need only to create an initial request letter. However, if you are fundraising for a recurring event and targeting both new and former donors you will want to write two letters with different introductory paragraphs. In your letter to former donors, begin by reminding them of their generous donation in the past. Thank them, and let them know how the donation was used and whom it benefitted. When writing to new potential donors introduce yourself and your cause or event. Provide an overview of previous fundraisers and the success of those events. For both types of letters, try to include personal quotes from people or organization members who were helped as the result of past efforts.
Inspire to Participate
In the first body paragraph of your letter make an appeal for support. Give a brief overview of the issues and concerns facing your charity or organization and explain how a donation will help. Suggest reasons why the donor should want to help you. Remind them that contributions are tax-deductible. Is your cause a matter important to the community? Does it have global significance or involve work that the general public cares about such as education or health issues? Give potential donors a reason to care about your cause that they may not have considered before.
Make it Easy
In the second body paragraph provide the details of your event. Include instructions on where to send the donation or whom to contact to arrange for pick-up of auction items. Suggest a range for monetary donations, or list items desirable for an auction.
Close the Deal
In your closing paragraph thank the donor for their time and their contribution. Make note of deadlines and enclosures such as forms or return envelopes.