It is better to give than to receive.
This adage has withstood the test of time. There’s truly nothing more rewarding than giving to a worthy cause and seeing the seeds of your contributions blossom into fruits of change.
This is where church fundraising letters come in. With the help of a well-thought-out fundraising letter, your church can reap all of the goodness it has sown.
But where do you get started with a church fundraising letter? And why use letters to raise money?
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The WHEN and WHO
Let’s jump right into the first question: Why do churches need to fundraise?
Just like any other organization, churches need funding to continue the work that they do.
Without a little support here and there, churches wouldn’t be able to keep the lights on, much less send mission trips out to spread the Good News.
Churches are just like other nonprofits. They aim to make the world a better place. But they’re also like nonprofits in that they’re not really businesses (they’re not-for-profit), and they still have bills to pay and projects that they’d like to see completed.
As such, they need to find ways to raise money, not for their own profit, but in order to help others.
Many churches provide ministry work for the communities they’re a part of. In order to accomplish these great works, they need in-kind donations as well as monetary donations.
To provide ministry services, churches will often have to ask for:
- Pantry items
- Fresh food
- Hygiene products
- And more
This is not to mention the costs of employing people to manage these services.
Of course, many ministries and churches rely heavily on volunteer work.
But not every job can be made into volunteer work.
Part of the donations that people make to their churches go to paying for the salaries of ministry workers. Donations also partially go to pay the pastor, church administrator, and other church leadership figures.
Takeaway: Churches need to fundraise to be able to function on a daily basis as well as to provide meaningful services for the communities they’re a part of.
Believe it or not, a good fundraising letter is one of the most effective fundraising tools in a church’s toolkit.
A well-crafted letter invites the reader to be a part of something greater than themselves.
A good church fundraising letter typically includes:
- A warm, personalized greeting.
- Specific information about your fundraiser.
- The signature of someone in leadership, preferably the pastor.
This list is only the bare bones of what you’ll need for a successful church fundraising letter, but it’s a start!
Why should you try to write the best fundraising letter you can?
The better your letter, the more likely your church will be to raise funds!
As long as you remember to include a return envelope with a stamp, your letter recipients will find it easier to give to your cause.
Not only do letters inspire donors to send money through the mail, but they also drive people to visit church websites.
Once your members are on your website, they can choose to donate quickly and simply.
Bonus: While on your website, they can also learn up-to-date info about what you’re doing for the community.
You may be thinking: “If I need to fund my project quickly, wouldn’t it be more efficient to send out emails to my congregation?”
While it’s true that you can raise quite a bit of money through email, when you’re trying to fund a large project–like a building or a mission trip–it’s preferable to send out letters.
Emails are great for quick communication. But letters are personal.
If you’re asking for a significant amount of money, a formal letter goes further than a quick email that might get filed away (or worse yet, buried in junk).
Not only that, but some people just prefer traditional methods of donation, even if they’re only sending you $10.
That being said, a great email fundraising campaign can do wonders for your church.
What types of letters can you send?
There are several different types of fundraising letters that your church can send out.
From mission trip letters to building repair letters, and everything in between. The uniting factor is: “What does your church need the money for?”
The most common types of church fundraising letters are:
- Special event or project letters
- Mission trip letters
- Church donation letters
- Church building or repair letters
- Auction item request letters
- Sponsorship request letters
- Missionary support letters
- Thank you letters
As you can see, each letter corresponds to a very particular (or a more general) need.
For more on the different types of church fundraising letters, read: Types of Church Fundraising Letters.
Takeaway: There are several different types of fundraising letters that your church can (and should) be sending out.
Nowadays, most fundraising is completed online. Online fundraising isn’t only more convenient for your church and congregation but also most supporters prefer to give online. As such, it’s important that your fundraising letters mention your online fundraising methods so congregants know where they can make a donation.
From text-to-tithe to online giving forms to crowdfunding campaigns, there are plenty of ways you can show congregants how to give to your church.
Here are a few ways you can incorporate online fundraising into your letters:
- For text-to-tithe, include your church’s text-to-tithe number in a prominent location (like your letterhead) and list out the steps it takes to make a gift.
- For an online giving form, link to your church’s website. Just make sure that your online giving page is easy to spot on your church’s homepage. That way, congregants don’t have to spend time looking for your forms.
- For online fundraising campaigns, in addition to including a link to the online fundraising page, you should also include your social media handles. When your congregants follow you on social media, they’ll be up-to-date on all your fundraising event details.
Just because you’re sending out direct mail doesn’t mean you can’t encourage congregants to use your online giving methods. These tips should help you direct readers to the right place to make a gift.
Takeaway: Online fundraising is a popular way for churches to raise money and should be incorporated into your fundraising letters.
As with most fundraising efforts, timing is a key factor.
If you send out a fundraising letter too early, you risk people forgetting.
Likewise, if you send out your letters too late, people may scramble to send their support…and fail to make it to the post office in time.
Truth be told, there’s no one perfect time to send out fundraising appeals.
You do the best you can to estimate (generally six weeks before any event), but there are always exceptions to rules.
And there are so many different types of letters that need to be sent out throughout the year. There’s no blanket generalization that can be made. For the first few times you send out letters, it will be more trial and error than anything.
But there’s good news! From then on out, your loyal supporters will come to expect your fundraising letters during the different seasons of the year.
Bonus tip: Just in case you slip up and send your letters too late, make sure to include the link to your online donation page (or add a QR code to the bottom of your letter for donors to scan and donate). You can also include information about your church’s text-to-give campaign at the end of your letter, in case they would prefer to give that way.
To whom should you send letters?
Anyone and everyone!
But in all seriousness, you’ll want to make an effort to segment your church.
What does it mean to segment your church?
No, it’s not making the people who wear red shirts sit on the left side and those wearing blue on the right.
Segmenting your church means breaking your church down into different groups of people and approaching those different groups accordingly.
For instance, if you have a large number of young donors, you can set them aside on your list as most likely to donate through mobile devices or online.
Older members of your congregation are most likely to respond to handwritten letters. Somewhere in between, you’ll have supporters who will love to contribute via email.
Takeaway: Segment your church in order to tailor whom you send your letters to effectively.
How often should you send letters?
The frequency with which you send out letters will depend on several factors:
- Are you hosting several events this year? Plan ahead to consolidate your asks.
- Is your congregation large or small? Smaller congregations will be easier to send several letter campaigns to.
- How many mission trips does your church send?
- When are you planning to upgrade your church? You’ll want to time these asks when you haven’t sought donations in a while.
- Do you seek sponsorships on a frequent basis?
These are not the only considerations to make when you’re timing your letter writing campaigns. The other factors will depend on your specific church’s needs and schedule.
As a general rule, you don’t want to send more than one letter (asking for donations) every two months.
A total of six fundraising letters a year, at most!
You can send other types of letters more frequently, but you don’t want to bombard your churchgoers with requests for money.
Takeaway: You should be sending letters consistently, not constantly.
Now you’re well-versed in the basics of church fundraising letters.
What’s stopping you? Get your pen and paper and get fundraising!