Fundraising letters can be an effective way to target potential donors and sponsors for high school fundraisers. They let you get your thoughts down in an organized and personable way, and they enable the receivers to think about the request at their own pace. Letters also work with all manner of fundraising ideas. Whether you’ve decided to sell candy, hold a gala, bring in a celebrity or something else entirely, a letter helps get your point across.
Of course, getting a fundraising letter right can take practice, so here are a few tips.
More “You” Language Than “I” or “Us” Language
There’s no doubt you believe in your cause and your fundraising ideas, but emphasize what the potential sponsor can get from a partnership with you. For example, you could write, “You would be helping with sorely needed gym renovations, and we’d like to express gratitude by giving your business a banner in the gym.” Another possibility is something like, “For as a little as $200, you can help pay to send many of our players on their first trip out of state and broaden their horizons. Because of you, their lives will be changed.”
Include both tangible and intangible rewards, and avoid stilted third-person language. Write as if you’re chatting with a real person — because you are.
Be Specific That You’re Asking for Money
Directly asking for money can be awkward, but you have to do it. Otherwise, phrasing a vague request for “support” is confusing and puts the onus on the potential donor to reach out to you. Include a call to action at least once in the letter, and include another sheet of paper that outlines the various sponsorship tiers you’ve set. For example, what does a $50 donation mean for the business? What would a $5,000+ donation garner? Now is not the time to be shy.
Make the Letter Friendly on the Eyes
The simplest things can be the easiest things to overlook. Make your letter reader-friendly by using standard fonts in standard sizes and lots of white space, bullet points, lists, and boldface for important phrases or words.
Set a Deadline
A letter does allow readers to read and process it at their own pace, but you should include a deadline. It creates a sense of urgency and increases the likelihood of action being taken. When you’re deciding on the deadline, remember to allow for mail processing and delivery times and at least a few days for the person or business to discuss the feasibility of a donation with others in the organization.
Include the Means by Which to Donate
Too many fundraising letters start well but skip a call to action that explains how to donate. You could:
- Have a URL for donations and detailed instructions ( assuming they have to upload a logo)
- Ask the person to email or call you with donation information.
- Provide a mailing address for check donations or credit card donations.
If the latter is one of your options, include a stamped, addressed envelope. It’s fine to have all three options.
Know Who You Are Writing To
For many potential sponsors, it pays to do a little research. Find out the person at the company who handles fundraising donation requests, and direct your letter to that person. Mention the company’s history of giving and the causes it is passionate about. If it has helped your team or school in past high school fundraisers, mention that.
Add a P.S.
Quite a few people skim instead of read, so it’s essential to add a P.S. that encapsulates your main points, including how and why the potential donor should give money. Include the deadline too.
An effective fundraising letter uses “you” language, outlines what’s in it for the donor, is engaging and personable, makes donating easy, and creates a clear deadline. All donors have to do is donate. They shouldn’t even have to get their own stamp