If you’re just jumping in to raise funds for a special event, and especially if you’re entering the world of VC financing, being able to write a good fundraising letter is a key skill to have these days.
If the stakes are high and it’s important to hit it out of the park, or if you’re looking to be a master of fundraising, it’s important to take “Fundraising Masters: The Ultimate Resource for Raising Money.” It is a short online course, but you will feel the ROI for years to come!
For the shorter-term goal of raising funds, it’s best to take a look at some fundraising letter samples and briefly outline some techniques. A note that these apply to both traditional letters and email correspondence.
TECHNIQUE AND STYLE
- Be clear and precise. It may be a cause close to your heart, but others might not know what the heck you are talking about. Clearly state your cause using as few words as possible
- Get to the point. Keep “warm-up” stories short and don’t beat around the bush.
- Be persuasive. This is certainly a skill that can be learned and practiced.
- Make it easy. People are so, so busy. They will tell you how busy they are at any opportunity. So don’t make giving to your cause complicated or it won’t happen. Don’t ask for “whatever you can give.” Ask for a specific good, service, or monetary amount and give them a very quick, simple way give it.
FUNDRAISING LETTER SAMPLES
1. Charitable Cause
“Feb. 20, 2014
City, State, Zip
On (insert date), I will be running in the (insert event) in order to raise money for the Tourette Syndrome Association. Although it will be a challenge for me to complete this race, I will be especially motivated by the excitement of knowing that it will benefit such a worthy cause.
I am asking friends and family to consider sponsoring me for this event. I have two ambitious goals – first to complete the run without sustaining any bodily harm and second to meet my personal goal of raising (insert amount) for the Tourette Syndrome Association. I would greatly appreciate your kind consideration by making a donation toward this goal. All donations are, of course, tax deductible.
As many of you know, this is a personal cause for me. I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome (TS) when I was nine-years-old, and frankly, my life has never been the same since. TS affects people in many different ways and affects many more people than you might imagine. Although I have improved greatly, I still struggle with this battle every single day. Currently, there is no cure for this perplexing neurobiological disorder, which is why your help and support means so much. One day we will have this beat, but until then please join me in supporting this very important cause.
TO SPONSOR: Visit my fundraising page: (insert the address of the webpage you created) If you wish to mail a check, please detach and mail the following form.
I/we would like to make a donation to the Tourette Syndrome Association by sponsoring (runners name) inthe (name of race) on (date of race).
I will make a donation of $ ____________
Your Name (please print) ______________________________________________
Please make all checks out to the Tourette Syndrome Association and mail it to
Tourette Syndrome Association, Attention: Development Department, 42-40 Bell Blvd. Suite 205, Bayside, NY 11361
Thank you for supporting me and such a wonderful cause!”
2. Education/School (this one is a little dense and very formal so customize as you see fit)
“Dear (personalize greeting with recipient name)
On (insert date of event) I will be taking up the challenge of (briefly write about the event you are participating in using the facts and figures your fundraising coordinator has provided).
The (insert name of your event) will raise vital funds for (name of your school, PTA, group, etc). (Insert name of your fundraiser) will provide (insert purpose of fundraiser – NOTE: It’s OK to expand this part to two or more sentences).
We have a large fundraising goal for (name of your school) (name of your event). The expected cost of the (insert fundraiser purpose) is $ (insert fundraiser goal). I have set myself a personal fundraising target of $ (insert your own sponsorship target). I would greatly appreciate your help in reaching this target because (insert benefit summary or fundraiser benefit statement).
I have started my fundraising off with a personal donation of $ (insert your own amount). Your donation will bring me closer to my goal and help (insert benefit statement about your fundraising event).
As part of our fundraising, we are also holding a (name of your event) on (date of your event). I will be inviting people from the local business community/families from the local area. If you could donate (an item for our auction, provide the food/drinks/decorations or print the tickets and posters for the event), I will (include an acknowledgement of your support on the program, etc).
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. As one of my sponsors, I will personally let you know how we do. If you would like any more information on(name of your school/event), please visit (URL of your school website).
(insert your name)
Tear-off Reply Form: Fill-in your name, company, donation amount.
I, ________________ at ____________________ will help (insert your name here) reach his/her fundraising target of $ (your personal sponsorship target) for the (name of your school)(name of your event) by sponsoring him/her with a donation of:
$5 $10 $20 $50 $100 $250 Other Amount $_____
All checks should be made payable to (name of your school, PTA, etc).
Please reply to:
(Insert your contact details here)”
3. Local Cause
“I am writing to draw your attention to a matter of great importance. Mayor Doe has pledged to address the dangerous condition of many of the intersections surrounding our children’s schools. However, due to last year’s extensive flooding, city coffers are nearly empty, and the funds are not available to install even one new traffic light. The intersection of Main and Center streets is fraught with danger for the dozens of grade school children who must cross these streets every day. If we can raise $3,600 we can pay an off-duty policeman to direct traffic at this crosswalk during school hours until such time as funds are available to install a proper traffic light. I hope you will join me in supporting this solution to this most immediate peril. Send a check for your tax-deductible donation to this address:
Crossing Guard Fund
Springfield Parent/Teacher/Student Association
1600 Main St.
Springfield, KS 12345
Don’t wait until tragedy strikes. Please act now, for the sake of our children.”
FUNDRAISING AND SOCIAL MEDIA
The most successful fundraisers these days – whether grassroots (think Kickstarter) or corporate or VC – have one thing in common: a large social media presence and influence.
Some people naturally have this presence; however, many are taught. You can learn how to take your causes and increase your influence by going strong online. The greatest tool is “How To Win Friends and Influence People on Social Media”. Increasing your presence online can drastically improve many parts of your life: widening and tightening your connections, creating new friendships, and becoming a hub for the things and activities you love.
A fundraising letter sample here looks very different from a traditional letter:
1. Facebook example #1:
“Hey fb community! Many of you have seen my updates regarding the Mackey family and what they have been going through. 18 month-old Darcy sustained a spinal cord injury in a hit-and-run accident and the family is struggling to pay for her medical care. Please, please take a minute to stop what you’re doing to think about this and throw a little bit of money their way. Every little bit counts for them and for her <INSERT LINK TO MAKE IT EASY>.”
2. Facebook example #2:
“Want to see me take the biggest free-base jump attempted in Northern California? Donate here! <INSERT INK> Funds will be given to Cancer Survivors Intl.”
You can even add a giving app to your facebook page to make it super simple for all: http://www.facebook.com/givingapp .
3. Twitter example:
“I’m raising money to help Concern’s life-saving work with some of the world’s poorest
people. Sponsor me! <INSERT LINK TO YOUR FUNDRAISING PAGE> “
The whole success of Instagram and Pinterest is that pictures truly speak 1,000 words, right? So how powerful can this be for fundraising? 1,000 times more powerful if you play it right. Most importantly, pick a picture that quickly and powerfully tells the story. Then use it to launch a text campaign or hashtag campaign.
Not sure what hashtags are or how to tweet about your fundraising efforts? Then, again, “How To Win Friends and Influence People on Social Media” is highly recommended. Entering the big leagues? Learn how to “Influence Investors: Secret Twitter Tactics for Fundraising” and get that cash!