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Fundraising Letters vs. Fundraising Emails

Fundraising Letters vs. Fundraising Emails

writing a letter vs writing an email to fundraise
Examing fundraising letters and emails to help you make the right choice for your group or organization.

As a rule of thumb, the more personal the correspondence, the better.  That said, it’s not necessarily a given that you should always be choosing fundraising letters over email.  The two forms of communication both have their benefits as well as their downsides, so it’s important to understand how and when each can benefit (or hurt) your fundraising efforts before making a choice.

Fundraising Letters

The Good

Letters can be very powerful in reaching out to donors and potential donors because a fundraising letter is a physical, tangible request for help that can be put directly into the hands of those you’re reaching out to.

They also offer great opportunity for personalization because even if they are typed as opposed to handwritten, you can include your handwritten signature to show the recipient that you’ve literally put your hand into your correspondence.

Additionally, you can include brochures, photographs, handwritten notes and other such things that don’t always translate over to the email world.

The Bad

The downside is that letters can be costly.  Postage can add up fast and then there’s the cost of envelopes, paper and printing.

Letters can also be time consuming.  Once your letter is written you’ll need to add each recipient’s name in the greeting to take advantage of personalization, and sign each one.  You’ll also need to address envelopes, match letters with envelopes, seal them, stamp them and send.

Fundraising Emails

The Good

They’re low cost, fast and easy!  Need I say more?  And your personalization options aren’t too limited either.  You can easily customize emails with the recipient’s name, and even add your signature.  It’s also easy to include photos or attach documents.

As an added bonus, emails are a “greener” communication choice because they don’t use paper.

The Bad

An email is not as personal as a letter because it doesn’t put something into your donor’s hand.  Once the email is read, the window is closed and there is nothing left on their desk as a reminder.  It’s left up to the donor to remember and revisit the email.

What to do?

If the time and cost of letters is going to significantly cut into your organization’s main goals, email is a good choice.  To enhance the personal factor, follow up with phone calls, or send letters to your biggest or most committed donors only rather than your whole list (with an email to your entire list, of course).

If you have the resources, a great idea is to combine the two.  Send a letter and follow it up a week or two later with an email.

Sample Fundraising Letters: Thank You Letters

Sample Fundraising Letters: Thank You Letters

Group of people saying ThankIn this part of our series on sample fundraising letters, we’ll look at thank you letters that not only help you show gratitude to your donors, volunteers and participants, but will also help build ongoing relationships.

Taking this approach to thank you letters will help ensure continued support for your organization as it grows and develops over the years.  In this sense, thank you letters are more than just a courtesy, they are a fundamental building block for your organization.

First, here are some key points to remember:

–  Try to make it as personal as possible.

–  Refer to specific events and contributions made by your participant, volunteer or supporter.

–  Keep in mind that their support plays a big part in the continuation of your organization’s work, and acknowledge this in your letter.

Sample Thank You Letter 1 – Thanking your donors

Mountainview Animal Rescue Center
123 Mountain Drive, Suite 300
Mountview, PA 55555

Dec. 20th, 2007

Mr. Ed Randall
99 Sycamore Street
Mountainview, PA 55555

Dear Ed Randall,

Thank you so much for your sincere generosity in donating $1,500 to the Mountainview Animal Rescue Center.

Your generous donation will help cover veterinary fees to prepare our animals for adoption.  Thanks to you, many of them will be welcomed into their new homes in the coming months.

On behalf of the center, and on behalf of the animals who will soon be at home with their loving families because of you, I thank you.

Sincerely,

Beth Johnson
Director, Mountainview Animal Rescue Center

Sample Thank You Letter 2 – Thanking your volunteers

Eleanor Jones
Mayfield Fundraising Center
333 Field Avenue
Mayfield, PA 55555

Dec. 20th, 2007

Barb Matthews
29 Elm Street
Mayfield, PA 55555

Dear Barb,

Many thanks for your time, support and inspiring attitude at last Saturday’s Walk for the Cure event.

Your dedication and sunny personality made all the difference for our volunteer team, participants and supporters.  We received many compliments and expressions of gratitude on your behalf.  One participant noted, “Barb’s smile makes me remember what it’s all about.”

I think it’s safe to say that your presence had a generous impact on the success of the event.  Our sincerest thanks to you!

Sincerely,

Eleanor

Eleanor Jones
Mayfield Fundraising Chairperson

Sample Thank You Letter 3 – Thanking your participants

Lakeside Library
1 Main Street
Mayfield, PA 55555

Dec. 20th, 2007

The Parker Family
123 Avenue Rd
Mayfield, PA 55555

Dear Parker Family,

I would like to extend our sincerest thanks for your participation in the Lakeside Library’s Book Drive for Literacy.

With your participation, we were able to surpass our goal of 500 and collect nearly 600 used books from the community.  These books will be divided up by reading level and distributed amongst the schools, community centers, children’s clubs and adult education centers throughout Lakeside and the surrounding area.  This will go a long way towards promoting literacy and making reading materials more easily accessible in our community.

Your family’s participation in the drive was instrumental in surpassing our goal.  It is my pleasure and honor to thank you for your generous efforts.

Sincerely,

Mark O’Neil
Director, Lakeside Library



 

Sports Donation Letter Fundraising

Sports Donation Letter Fundraising

signature on a letter of thanks for the donation
Writing donation letters can be a challenging project. My Sports Dreams helps organizations with fundraising letter campaigns by creating personalized sports donation letters just for your sports team or league.

If you have come to our site looking for help with a sports donation letter, you can skip the learning curve (and there is a lot to learn about writing a fundraising letter) by working with My Sports Dreams.

My Sports Dreams has worked with over 12,000 teams, from kids to college teams, from recreational to elite competition. Depending on how many players you have, your team can raise anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 or more.

A My Sports Dreams campaign gives your team personalized fundraising letters, and your supporters get valuable discounts of up to 40% for everything from hotels to office supplies.

How It Works

1 – My Sports Dreams creates custom sponsorship mailers personalized with your group photo, accomplishments, and fundraising goals.

2 – Your players personalize the letters with the name of their family, friends, and other potential supporters.

3 – Your team gets together to address and stamp the mailers.

4 – Supporters receive your mailer and can make a donation by phone, check, or online.

On top of all your donations, your team will get 20% off of My Sports Dream’s travel and equipment partners, dollar for dollar up to the total amount you raise. So if you raise $5,000, you can save $5,000 on sports equipment, travel services, and other things your team needs (and is probably raising money for).

My Sports Dreams takes a small fee for the materials and the work, which is well worth it for the assurance of a proven fundraising letter formula based on years of successful results, and costs much less than a typical professional fundraising consultant.

Visit My Sports Dreams for more information. You will get a free guide to sports fundraising success and a special Eastbay discount just for requesting info on their site.

Get information about My Sports Dreams donation letter campaigns >>

 

Sample Fundraising Letters – Event Invitations

Sample Fundraising Letters – Event Invitations

iStock_000007188735_Large

cut out letters spelling you're invited on pink napkins with curled ribbons and confetti, great for invitation cards

Events can be a great tool for many non profit organizations.  Here are some letter examples that can help raise attendance at your next event.

Your organization may hold events for a variety of purposes.  The most common are events designed to raise funds, but you may also hold events that don’t focus on fundraising such as awareness raising events, or thank you events.

Some key points to keep in mind when writing your event invitations are:

  • Clearly state when and where the event will be held.

 

  • Say why you’re having the event.

 

  • Say what you want the invitation recipient to do – Just show up?  Buy a ticket?  RSVP?  Invite others?

 

  • Express the benefits of attending to the recipient.

 

  • As with all fundraising letters, make it as personal as possible.

Sample Letter 1 – Invitation to a Fundraising Event

Elmherst Free Arts Center
99 Elmherst Drive
Cityville, ST 55555

March 26, 2008

Alan Johnson
123 Mountainview
Cityville, ST 55555

Dear Alan,

Where do Expressionism, Cubism and Realism mingle?  At the Elmherst Free Arts Center’s Annual Free Arts Exhibit, of course!

This year, you’re invited to join us for the celebration of works from 12 local artists, spanning 7 different artistic styles and working in a variety of unique mediums.  This is your opportunity to be one of the first to view these exciting new artists!

Where – Elmherst Free Arts Center
When – Saturday, April 26th
Why – To raise funds for the Art to Art youth outreach program

Tickets for this black tie event are on sale now through our website, or by calling 555-1234.  All proceeds from ticket sales will go to support our community outreach program, Art to Art, which provides art classes and mentoring to underprivileged youth in the Elmherst community.

We can’t wait to see you there!

Sincerely,

Jen Duncan
Director, Elmherst Free Arts Center

Sample Letter 2 – Invitation to an awareness raising event

Helping Hands Christian Center
555 Richmond Ave
Cityville, ST 55555

March 26, 2008

Evans Family
456 34th Street
Cityville, ST 55555

Dear Evans Family,

Violent crime is on the rise in our own backyard.  Find out what you can do to stop it!

As Christians, each of us is charged with the mission of inspiring peace in the world.  Today, as we look to our own community, there is a need for peace here at home, and you have the power to bring that peace.

We invite you to join us this Wednesday evening for a discussion of the issues that are personally affecting our families, friends and neighbours.

Place:  The Helping Hands Christian Center
Date:  Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008
Time:  7:00 – 9:00pm

Please join us in securing a better future for our community.

Sincerely,

Pastor John Hammond
Helping Hands Christian Center

Sample Letter 3 – Invitation to a Thank You or Awards Event

Westbrook High School
123 Westbrook Rd
Westbrook, ST 55555
March 26, 2008

Mary Smith
789 The Street
Westbrook, ST 55555

Dear Mary Smith,

You are cordially invited to attend an evening of wining and dining in your honor!

In honor of you and the many other volunteers who supported us this past year, the students of Westbrook High School are hosting a special spaghetti dinner to show our appreciation for all your hard work and dedication.

You and a guest are invited to join us Friday, May 9th at 7:00pm.  You will be treated to dinner and a show, with service and entertainment provided by the students themselves.

We truly hope to see you there!  To RSVP, please call Sandy March, Student Council Advisor, at 555-4567, or email sandym@ email.com to let us know if you will be attending, and if you will be bringing a guest.

Thank you for all your help and support!

Sincerely,

The Students of Westbrook High

 

How to Write Donation Letters

How to Write Donation Letters

Close-up of businesswoman's hand
Need to write a donation request letter for your cause or organization’s next fundraising campaign?  Don’t know where to start, or how to organize your letter?  Help is here!

For many people, writing donation request letters is the most stressful part of the fundraising process.  You need to raise funds, you need to request donations, you know your cause, and you know what you’re asking for and why, but when you sit down with pen in hand – or hand on keyboard – you just don’t know where to start.  Sound familiar?  You’re not alone.  And better still, help has arrived!

Writing a donation letter is not difficult.  It’s just a matter of getting your thoughts organized.  Here is an example of what an ideal donation letter might look like:

[Date]

 

[Recipient Address]

 

Dear [Recipient Name],

 

Every year [organization name] works towards [your cause].  This fight is made possible by the generous support of people like you.

 

In this past year alone, [organization name] has [describe a goal achieved, share a story of your organization’s success, or the story of a person or cause that benefited from your organization’s work].  This year, we hope to [share a goal for the coming year].

 

We’re asking you, today, to take a stand against/for [your cause] by making a simple donation of [$ amount].  Your [$ amount] will [what will this amount cover?  Feed a child? Secure an acre of rainforest? Purchase school or sports supplies?].  To send your generous donation, please [payment specifics – payment type, mailing address, etc].

 

[Organization name] thanks you for your time and generosity.

 

Sincerely,

 

[Your Signature]

 

[Your Name, printed]
[Your Title]
[Organization Name]

 

Not every donation letter will look exactly like this, but this 3-paragraph style is a good way to organize your thoughts.  Let’s break it down by paragraph to help you better understand how to write an effective donation letter.

Paragraph 1 – State the name and cause of your organization, and the reason for your letter.

Some people think you should save the asking till the end, or that you could put people off by making the donation request clear right away.  On the contrary!  It is always best to make the purpose of your letter apparent right from the start.

Make sure the wording of your cause is heartfelt and genuine, and a donation request will certainly not put anyone off.

It is respectful and considerate to be upfront about the purpose of your correspondence.  If someone takes the time to read through your letter, and only finds the donation request in the last paragraph, they might feel misled.

Paragraph 2 – Your appeal.

Now it’s time to make the case for your organization.  You’ve stated your cause and your purpose.  Now tell the person why they should support you.  Share a success story, or goal that has been reached.  You can also share the personal story of a person or group that you’ve helped.

Just remember not to go overboard.  The entire contents of the letter should fit onto one page.  If you have several stories you’d like to share, consider compiling a newsletter that will be sent in addition to your donation letter, in which case, the letter can reference the newsletter and invite the recipient to read more.

Paragraph 3 – The specifics

This is another reason why you made the donation request clear in the first paragraph.  Now you need to discuss specifics, and that’s much easier when the person knows it’s coming.  They’ve been prepared, and many have already decided to donate, they just need to know how.

If you are providing a set donation amount, be sure to keep it within range of past donations for previous donors (read more about keeping track of donor history).  For example, if someone gave $20 last year, you wouldn’t ask for $100 this year.  Instead, you might offer a range of $20 – $50 for this year’s donation request.  And of course, let donors know what the money they donate will be used for.

Above all, don’t forget to thank the recipient of your letter.  Even if they don’t donate, it’s important to thank them and let them know you appreciate their time.