Practical Tips for Writing Fundraising Letters from our Faith Based Fundraising Coach
Crafting a church capital campaign letter that is actually read by your recipients requires a little bit of art and a little bit of science. It may take time to compose a truly outstanding fundraising letter, but since they’re an important part of a capital campaign – they provide the written background and support for what is presented publicly about your fundraising vision – they should not be ignored.
So what does it take to write attention-grabbing church capital campaign letters that achieve your desired fundraising goals? Creativity, up-to-the-minute content, and great vision casting. They need to correspond to the overall vision and theme, and at the same time appeal to a reader’s sense of belongingness to the church. It’s a balancing act that’s well worth the effort.
As you contemplate the words you will use for your next capital campaign fundraising letter, here are some tips for success:
- Attention-Grabbing Introductions. If your first words grab their attention, they are more likely to read the rest of the letter. Imagine what is topmost on people’s minds in your church, and go with that, then flesh it out and turn it to the subject at hand.
- Write to One Person. Imagine you are writing to a certain person in your church, not the entire congregation. This will help your letter to sound more personable. Use singular words, not plural: avoid ‘some of you’ and use ‘you’ instead.
- Be Specific. Tell your one individual that you are writing just about the campaign, and that you want a response by a specific date such as a pledge amount that is sacrificial but in their range of ability to give. Explain that their commitment will help with this specific project.
- Stay Focused. Often we make the mistake of adding other needs of the church, resulting in a letter that misses the real point of your request. Stay focused on the capital campaign goals and the specific request you’re making in order to increase positive responses.
- Tell Stories. People respond to a heart touching story more so than to the facts of the need. These need to be real experiences that demonstrate what God is doing in the lives of your children, youth or adults. Use descriptive words to clarify your ask, without exaggerating or embellishing. People want to get on board with a winning vision.
- Keep it Simple. Avoid including such things as your mission statement or a long description of your future plans. Extremely detailed numbers confuse people. Having said that, people do tend to read a two page letter word-for-word as opposed to a one page letter because they get the feeling that something really important is coming if it takes this long to tell it. In some cases, bolding or italicizing words or phrases helps, but use sparingly since people will skip the other parts and just read the bolded parts.
- Personalization. Since you are writing to a specific person, try to include information that may impact their lives directly as well as their families.
- Use the PS Effectively. People always read the PS at the bottom of the letter. Use this to reemphasize what it is you are asking them to do.
Be sure to conclude with a ‘thank you’ for their time to read your letter, and a note to get in touch with you if they have any input or questions they have to ask about what you have said in the letter. If you have trouble getting started, the best thing to do is to simply begin writing something and soon the thoughts and ideas will flow.
While writing church fundraising letters is an important part of a capital campaign, it is important to remember that this should not be your primary means of raising funds for your project. In fact, written letters receive the lowest level of response in a church campaign. However, well-written engaging, inspirational fundraising letters are important for generating interest on a wide scale, provide support to the rest of the campaign, and should therefore not be overlooked.
Gord Hallett, Faith Based Fundraising Coach
Image via Flickr: William Arthur Fine Stationary