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23. Fundraising - Letters

No matter what your fundraising strategy, you will probably need letters.  Even when you have decided on a specific fundraising event, you will likely need to write letters in order to request space or services or some donations of assistance from local stores. You will also need to write letters to the media or to others who can help promote your fundraising event. 

Writing good letters is not a hard skill but it does take practice, and there are certain rules that you must follow. You need to include the contact information of yourself and the person you are writing to at the top of the letter. You must include a date, a salutation ("Dear Miss Jones:") and the text of the letter, and you need to include your signature at the bottom of the letter.

The content of the letter will depend on who you are writing to and why. If you are writing to a business asking for their support (and this includes the media), then you will want to keep things professional and short. But no matter who you write to, you will want to state who you are, what you are requesting, what you expect and why your letter is important. Consider the following example of a letter asking for support for your non-profit group:

J. Smith                                              A. Jones
Classroom Support                          ABC Publishing Co.
123 Anywhere Drive                         345 Any Street
Any City                                              Any City
Any Country                                       Any Country

Tel: (333) 333-3333

6 March 2006

Dear Miss Jones,

I represent Classroom Support, a newly registered non-profit organization in Any City. We are aiming to provide every child in our school classrooms with reading materials along with the tools they need to become lifelong readers. To this end, we we are holding a book sale at the school to raise funds for this worthwhile project.

The date for this is Saturday April 2nd, 2008 and we are planning to sell refreshments too at our facilites. We are hoping that your publishing company will be able to provide some unused or unsold books to donate either for sale at our fundraiser or, if the books are suitable for our young readers, then for direct use in our classrooms. We will be able to provide book plates stating that the books are donated by your company, and we will advertise your company as being a supporter of our cause. We will also be glad to distribute your catalogue to book buyers, if you wish.

I will telephone you next Tuesday at 3:30pm in order to discuss this project and your possible contribution to our cause. We are very excited about this as it would solve the problem of too few books in our classrooms, a problem that you yourself noted as "such a pity" in a recent interview you gave to the local media.

I look forward to speaking with you and I hope we can count on your generous support.


Jane Smith
























Although this letter is not perfect, it does do several things:

  • it explains clearly who is writing and why 
  • it explains exactly what is expected (donation of books) by when (April). 
  • it gives a follow-up possibility. By telling the owner of the company when she will call, Jane Smith makes it clear that she will follow up. By the time she calls, the company owner will likely have made a decision and they can discuss the project and its possibilities. If the owner has not looked at "Jane Smith" letter, she still has an instant "in" to talk to the owner - "I am calling about the letter I sent to you a week ago concerning the Clasroom Support book project." 
  • it asks for something tangible - rather than asking for money, Jane asks for something that is more likely to be given - books that a publisher may have a surplus of anyway. 
  • it targets the donor. From what Jane says, the owner of ABC Publishing is a supporter of literacy (as is indicated by the response in the recent interview). By reminding the owner of this, Jane suggests why ABC might want to support the project. 
  • it suggests value added. Jane Smith mentions that donating books will provide ABC Publishing with some free publicity. The owner may like to know that his company will receive this support. 
  • it maintains a professional tone. The letter is friendly but not overly familiar. It reads like a business letter, which is the appropriate tone for this sort of letter. 

In general, if you are writing to other groups, keep it professional, but when you are writing to individual donors, you may want to add some anecdotes, or some relevant photos, or something else that shows the donor how important this cause is. For example, if the above letter is being sent to a donor, then you might want to begin with "How many times a day do you read? Susan is a seven year old who loves to read, but can only do so when her school class visits the city library which is the other side of the city. Susan dreams of being able to read in her classroom every day and you can help Susan's dream turn into a reality, by supporting our book sale..."

This anecdote with its appeal to "you" help to make it clear to the donor why he or she should be donating. To summarize, your letters to donors will want to include:

  • Anecdotes or stories as to why the donor should donate to your cause. 
  • Photos or pictures that are appealing. 
  • Pre-addressed stamped envelope for donations (and provide several ways to make donations, for example by phone, mail, cheque, credit card) 
  • Use a less formal tone than you would use in a business letter 

Do not overlook the paper you use for your letters. Whether you are writing to a donor or a business, use a good quality paper that is white or cream in color. A heavy bond is best, and your envelope should match the paper of your letter. Make sure your letter gives all the information a dom=nor needs. Make it as easy as possible for them to give. The easier you make it for someone to help your non-profit group, the more likely your group is to get the support it needs.

Next page: 24. Fundraising - Emails and more

Practical Fundraising Ebook - Table Of Contents

  1. Fundraising - The Basics  
  2. Fundraising - Terminology 
  3. Fundraising - Money 
  4. Fundraising - Where to Find Donors and How to Reach Them 
  5. Fundraising - Targeting Your Donors 
  6. Fundraising - Research 
  7. Fundraising - Your Donors' Needs 
  8. Fundraising - Ideas 
  9. Fundraising - Donated Products 
  10. Fundraising - Bought Products 
  11. Fundraising - Marathons 
  12. Fundraising - Lotteries, raffles and more 
  13. Fundraising - Fairs, Auctions and Bazaars 
  14. Fundraising - Fun Events 
  15. Fundraising - Drives 
  16. Fundraising - Services 
  17. Fundraising - Tips for Choosing a Fundraising Idea 
  18. Fundraising - Your Plan 
  19. Fundraising - Your Team 
  20. Fundraising - Staying Organized 
  21. Fundraising - Communicating With Your Donors 
  22. Fundraising - Advertising 
  23. Fundraising - Letters 
  24. Fundraising - Emails and more 
  25. Fundraising - Person to Person 
  26. Fundraising - Thank You Notes 
  27. Fundraising - Grant Proposals 
  28. Fundraising - Press Releases 
  29. Fundraising - With Computers 
  30. Fundraising - Secrets to Success 
  31. Fundraising - Problems 
  32. Fundraising - Conclusions 


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