By Gina Calvert

How to Write a Church Fundraising Letter

Every church wants to start the new year off financially strong, and an annual fundraising letter can be a valuable part of the strategy.
 
Here are 8 tips for writing an effective fundraising letter:

Follow fundraising best practices

  • Decide on a focus: Is your letter’s focus going to be general fundraising? Or perhaps you’re trying to raise money for a specific purpose, such as mission trips, a capital campaign, special projects, a special benevolence campaign, or missionary support.
  • Strike the correct tone: Your fundraising letter should be personal, conversational, yet professional.
  • Plan your frequency: Letters received in the mail can stand out due to their rarity … so keep them rare. Once a year is best.
  • Be brief: Due to the general decline of attention spans, don’t write a novel! Keep it as brief as possible. (To do this, write the fundraising letter, then set it aside for a few days. It will be easier to streamline and edit with some distance.)

Start with a story

Most compelling fundraising conversations start with a story that appeals to your members’ hearts. In 2-3 sentences, tell of a family or individual the church was able to help, or a personal need you won’t be able to meet without additional funds.

Make it donor-centric

Donor-centric means the giver is the hero of the letter, not the church. Use the word “you” more than “we” or “us.” When you use “we” or “us,” don’t convey that the church is separate from your giver. Always tie past church progress to the donor: “In the past, your help has enabled our church to do ____.”

Be transparent

Most people want to understand the financial health of their church. They’re paying greater attention to the impact of their donations and how funds are spent by the organizations they support.

Your annual fundraising letter might include a “State of the Church” summary. You can include successful initiatives, giving trends, current debt, and upcoming goals for the church and community next year. (If your fundraising goal includes operational expenses such as a purchase or facilities upgrade, be sure to include the spiritual impact of those expenditures (as shown in the next point).

Show the impact of gifts

Even if you’re writing a general fundraising letter, you must show the impact of your gifts. If possible to calculate, you can share what a certain amount of dollars provides. For example: $100 provides lunches for 50 needy school kids for a week. Planning to launch a live-stream? Don’t be afraid to ask for large amounts (i.e. $5-10k) to “expand your evangelistic reach nationwide.” Set a range of amounts to reach all levels of givers: “Your gift enables us to ___.”

If you are using Vision2 as your giving software provider, you can visually highlight a fund(s) or project(s) for your fundraising campaign with visual ministry designations. This unique feature provides dynamic imagery and content to tell the “story,” as seen here on Saddleback Church’s giving page.

Be specific and create urgency

Whenever possible, include your fundraising goal. If a major donor is planning a large gift, consider tying it your fundraising letter via a matching campaign. “We have a generous giver who has offered to match donations up to $50,000 given by __ date.” A specific amount + specific time period + matching offer = urgency.

Include a call to action

Remember that your vision and goal are not to raise $100,000 or improve your facilities. These kinds of asks don’t inspire a lot of givers.

Rather, even if you’re trying to raise $100,000 or improve your facilities, your ultimate goal is to change the world. Save marriages. Feed the hungry. Introduce Jesus to more people. End homelessness in your city.

Therefore, your ask should not be subtle. Don’t be afraid to ask: “Would you consider contributing to help us [fulfill a specific vision]?

Direct them to your online giving page

If you’ve touched a nerve and they feel inspired to give, you’ll want to strike while the iron is hot – before they get busy and forget.

Invite them to GIVE NOW by visiting your online giving page. (Since they can’t click on a link, the URL should be easy, like “www.yourchurch.com/give.”)

Ideally your giving page will make it easy and inspiring to participate in your church’s vision. It will enable givers to easily divide their gift into a series of automated recurring gifts stretched across the year. To ensure your giving experience is frictionless and inspiring, give a small gift in your current giving system and check for these best practices.

If it is confusing or frustrating in any way, schedule a demo of Vision2 today to learn how to provide a giving experience that supports your church fundraising letter.