Writing a letter soliciting financial support is an effective method for fund-raising, because it is inexpensive. Targeting the letter to the right recipients is essential, however. People support different causes, and deciding whom to contact is as critical as the quality of the letter. Letters soliciting financial support should tell a poignant story about a need or cause. It should also clearly illustrate how the potential donor's contribution will make a difference.
Identify the cause in the first paragraph of the letter. A letter soliciting financial support for animal shelters might begin by describing a growing problem with stray dogs and cats, and the need to find good homes for them. A letter seeking financial support for nonprofit adult day care centers might open with a discussion about the plight of aging baby boomers and their special needs.
Personalize the letter in the second paragraph, if possible. Find ways to tie the recipient to the cause. This creates an emotional bond that could lead to success. For example, you may know that the recipient has participated in animal rights issues, or has supported programs for the elderly. This is why having a targeted mailing list is important, as it allows you to reach people who understand the cause and may contribute.
Ask for a specific monetary donation in the third paragraph, or a range of donations. Describe exactly how the money will help; for instance, ask for a $500 donation paying for two months of free adult day care for a widow who otherwise would remain home alone. Or request a $100 donation paying for the neutering of stray dogs and cats, to control overpopulation problems.
Close the letter by discussing why you or your organization is qualified to seek the financial support, and why the recipient should trust you. Cite reasons such as a nonprofit status, endorsement by local officials or a personal track record.
GuideStar, which provides fund-raising help to nonprofits, reports that you should guard against sloppy writing. The organization recommends rewriting the letter at least three times to eliminate mistakes and wordiness. Effective fund-raising letters are often just one or two pages long.