Churches require money to keep offering services to their communities. Tithes and offerings help support the cost of operation, but intentional church fundraising initiatives are key to staying afloat and providing influential service in the long run. Regardless of denomination, fundraising is a necessity.
Along with hosting traditional fundraising events, many churches and community organizations send out fundraising letters to their potential supporters to ask for donations directly. Mail appeals can reach a broad audience of congregants and are typically successful in gaining support from communities. When done well, fundraising letters are a cost-efficient way to share your story and frame your donation request.
We’ve developed countless templates and strategies for writing the best fundraising letters, and we’re here to help churches like yours write effective letters to garner the support you need.
Church donation appeals vary significantly from nonprofits’ and other organizations’ letters. We’ve created this guide to provide you with the best tips for writing church fundraising letters so you can communicate with and strengthen your church community. We’ll cover the following letter-writing tips:
- Use Personal Salutations.
- Include Fundraising Campaign Information.
- Make Church Fundraising Asks in Specific Amounts.
- Vary Your Fundraising Letter Format.
- Show Appreciation For Their Support.
Writing any church communication letter requires strategic language and personalized touches. Use these five tips to take your fundraising letter and turn it into donations that help to push your mission forward!
1. Use Personal Salutations.
To start your letter-writing plan, choose a church fundraising letter template that can apply to a large group of donors. After you plan your general body text, personalize each letter for every recipient by adding personal details wherever you can. This will make your congregants feel valued and appreciated, making them more likely to donate.
A few ways to add this important personal touch are:
- Addressing the donor by name. The days of “Dear Donor” are long past. Each letter needs to address the recipient by their preferred name to make an impact. This may seem simple, but it goes a long way, especially in a community as close as a church.
- Asking based on history. Include suggested donation amounts in the letter based on the donor’s previous giving history. This shows the donor that you know them, value their past contributions, and are reaching out specifically to them.
- Pulling information from your CRM software. Use any other engagement information you have on hand to personalize letters further. This can include mentioning the last service or church event they attended, or alluding to a broader history of how long they’ve been involved with your congregation.
- Segmenting your donor base. Put your hard-earned data to work by using your church’s database to create groups of donors. Then, tailor letters for each segment. For example, create a group of donors who regularly get involved with your church and one for those who haven’t been as active lately.
2. Include Fundraising Campaign Information.
As you’re drafting your church’s fundraising letter, make it clear what you are asking of your donors and why. Be sure church members and supporters understand what the fundraising campaign supports, how it will affect the church’s mission, and what part their individual donations will play.
Answer these questions when drafting your letter to effectively market your fundraiser:
- Why do you need their donation?
- Why should they donate right now?
- How can you communicate your campaign to the best of your ability?
- Can you include a story to explain your need?
While answering these questions in your letter, position your donor as the person doing the action. For example, you could provide a scenario such as, “your gift of X dollars will help send five children to Bible Camp this year.” This detail helps the reader understand your campaign’s purpose and gives them a sense of connection to your cause. If you’re stuck on how to word your ask, check out Double the Donation’s guide on how to ask for donations.
Once your mission is clear, some people may want to help out but be unable to contribute financially. Provide other church fundraising opportunities for them to get involved with your campaign, such as donating volunteer time or supplies.
3. Make Church Fundraising Asks in Specific Amounts.
Don’t leave it up to the supporter to decide how much to give. Instead, provide suggested donation amounts to add personalization and reflect your church’s attention to detail.
How do you choose specific amounts for your church fundraising asks? Follow these simple steps:
- Using data collected in your CRM, group recipients based on wealth indicators and giving history.
- Get an idea of each donor’s capacity to give based on demographic information like their employer, date of birth, and mailing address.
- If you don’t have this information in your donor database, a one-time data append service can help you fill in the gaps. Or, check if the software tools you already use have real-time data appending functionality.
- Based on this information, decide on suggested donation amounts for each group of donors.
Including these specific amount options in your fundraising letters will give your donors an idea of how they can help and drive them to give more. With these benefits in mind, it’s worth spending extra time to target your potential donors.
4. Vary Your Fundraising Letter Format.
For the same reasons personalization benefits your fundraising letters, varying your letter format can make a major impact on the number of donations you receive. Direct mail isn’t the only option!
Use multiple different communication channels and letter formats to make your church fundraising asks appeal to more of your members’ preferences and therefore increase donations. Consider using a mix of the following formats:
- Traditional letters: Send direct mail appeals to give recipients a tangible reminder of your church’s need for funds. Provide multiple ways to give, such as a QR code leading to your online donation page or a pre-addressed return envelope for cash or checks.
- Email appeals: Email is a convenient way to reach supporters and inspire them to donate right away. Use first names in the subject lines, and include plenty of links to relevant pages on your website, like your online giving form.
- eCards: Combine the benefits of both email and direct mail with creative eCards. These messages offer a unique, memorable way to ask for donations for your church. Plus, they’re easy to create using fundraising eCard software.
If you already have information in your donor database about your members’ communication preferences, use that data to determine who to send which type of letter to. If not, don’t be afraid to send out a quick survey to find out their preferences now.
5. Show Appreciation for Their Support.
Each time a congregant gives to your campaign, whether in money, time, or supplies, make it a priority to thank them for their generosity. They’ll feel validated in their decision to give when you recognize their contribution, which can encourage them to give again in the future. Plus, sending thank-you messages strengthens your relationship with your church community as a whole.
To do this effectively, be sure to show appreciation for all types of engagement, including:
- Monetary contributions: Whether your congregants donate to a special project or a general tithe, they’re financially supporting your church’s work. Thank them for their generosity and explain how their contributions will be used to impact the community.
- Volunteerism: The congregants who give their time to run your vacation Bible school (VBS), nursery, small groups, and any other church program donate their valuable time. Be sure to thank them for their involvement and explain the impact their efforts have on the congregation.
- Participation: It may seem expected that congregants would show up to church events, but it’s not always easy for them to be heavily involved! Recognize that your church members have busy lives and that their participation in church events is meaningful to you. Explain that showing up for potluck dinners, weekday classes, and any other church outing helps your congregation feel like a family.
Follow thank-you note best practices to optimize your appreciation efforts. In these thank-you letters, you can also take the opportunity to reiterate your goals and recap the progress you’ve made toward them with a well-crafted impact statement. This will keep church members informed and looking forward to future opportunities to give!