Many people kick off their 3rd party fundraising activities by organizing a letter writing campaign. Even though email is more convenient, a personalized letter can get more attention in this time of digital overwhelm. Most people are surprised at how much awareness and money fundraising letter campaigns can raise. The checklist below is designed to simplify the process of doing a fundraising letter campaign.
1. Create your list of names and addresses
You may want to invite other family members and close friends to generate lists of their contacts to send a family or group letter. Include as many people as you can – remember that you are giving them an opportunity to support your efforts and also increasing awareness for the important mission of the nonprofit organization.
2. Research sample letters for helpful ideas
There are many sample fundraising letters on the Internet. Learn from their work but get creative to make your letters unique. Create homemade cards or include pictures with your letters. We encourage you to be yourself and offer a personal touch to your letters. Tell your story and write in your own words. It’s far more important to sincerely say what matters to you than to say it perfectly.
Letter writing campaign variations:
- If possible create a web page on your nonprofit’s site and ask friends and family to visit your page to make a donation and to write in your guest book (many nonprofits already have this capability so be sure to ask if they can support you).
- Enclose a collage of family photos printed out on paper with your letter
- Enclose a homemade bookmark or magnet with your favorite saying
- Provide levels of giving (i.e. Gold, Silver, Bronze)
- Share your fundraising goal and mention that you have started with a personal donation
3. Will you send one version of the letter or personalize each
If you are sending one letter to everyone, we encourage you to personalize your letters by writing small notes on the generic letter. If you are personalizing your letter, that will take more time. Be sure you can create each one at the same level of quality from the first to the last. If you have a lot of names on your donor list, I would recommend you do one letter and write a personal note to those you know the most.
4. Include the following information
- Details about the nonprofit organization and their web site.
- Information on what cause is (this information can usually be found on the nonprofit organization’s web site or brochure).
- If you have created a web page, include instructions for your readers to visit your page for on-line contributions and to read your web page message.
- Your personal reason(s) for supporting the nonprofit organization.
- Outline the different ways your donors can contribute to your efforts.
- Information reminding your potential donors that contributions to the nonprofit organization are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law. They are a charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
5. Set some time aside to write your letter
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you begin your letter writing campaign:
- Take some time to think before setting pen to paper – decide where you want to go and how you want to get there
- Write clearly and effectively – the right word is the strongest and the most expressive word that will communicates your meaning most effectively
- Make things easy for your reader and try to place yourself in their place
- Write as you speak
- Plan a beginning, middle and end for your letter
- Start a new sentence for each new idea
- Keep your sentences and your paragraphs relatively short
- Engage your reader by challenging, questioning or directly addressing them
- Focus on your purpose
- Get to the point – “I’m writing to you today because…” or “I’m writing today to invite you to join me” – clearly convey what you want, why and when
- Make the opening sentence to a paragraph enticing and intriguing
- Try to end on a high note and with something people will remember
- When you are finished, read your letter aloud and see how it sounds or read it to a friend and ask them for feedback.
6. If necessary, have the nonprofit organization review
Not all nonprofits will need to review your letter, but make sure you are following their guidelines if they have any. Have others review your letter as well. You wouldn’t want to send it out with typos or grammatical mistakes.
7. Gather a team of family and friends to help
Invite friends and family to join you for a specified amount of time on a specific day to come and help you with your mailing. Your living room may turn into an assembly line for an afternoon, but the energy of a team can really make the stuffing a sealing process much more fun. (Tip: keep all of your receipts for postage and printing, as they are considered deductible as charitable contributions.
8. Prepare your letter stuffing “assembly line”
Here’s what you will need:
- Copies of your letter – personalized and ready to go
- Pre-printed address labels or copy of mailing list if planning to address by hand
- Envelope sealing bottles or sponges and water
- Munchies for your team
- Music to motivate them
- Extra copies of your letter for team members to take with them and share with their network
9. Mail your letters!
Once you mail your letters, take some time to decide how you will thank the people who donate to your efforts. In addition, come up with a thank you for your mailing team for their support. All that effort they put into your campaign should not go unrewarded.
10. Celebrate the success of your efforts with your team and with your donors!
You can use your web page to communicate with your donors and team about the progress you have made toward your fundraising goal.
Your fundraising letter campaign can be a very successful endeavor for your fundraising efforts if you implement this checklist. Take some time to be creative and project your personality to your best donors. Want more tips and help creating a successful fundraising? Contact Blue Sky Collaborative for more information.