In her recent post Attention Getting Strategies for Fundraising Letters, Sandra Sims of Step By Step Fundraising had some good pointers for writing fundraising letters.
When I think of a fundraising letter, I specifically think of an auction donation request letter … but what would you expect from a benefit auctioneer?
Sandra suggests five opening strategies:
- Use a Headline
- Attention Getting Words or Phrases
- Bold Statements & Exclamations
- Narratives & True Stories
I like how Sandra broke this down, so – for kicks – I experimented with three donation letters (one is a school auction). I changed the names of the organizations and quickly attempted to incorporate Sandra’s technique into each one. (“Quickly” being the operative word here. I’m on a time limit.)
In some cases, I simply pulled content which was written further down in the donation letter and put it towards the top. Take a look at the “before” and “after.”
Hopefully you’ll get some ideas for your own auction.
Sample letter 1
School Sample is a local private school district in NONAME COUNTY, composed of six campuses which include four preschool/childcares, four elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school. These schools are located in the towns of A, B, C, D, and E.
Sample letter 1 edited
Opening sentence using ‘headline’ approach (making it big and bolder font) and Sandra’s ‘bold statement’ approach
School Sample has six campuses, eight schools, and is spread across five towns. With so many children, you might think the marching band would be XXX students.
Instead, the music program is fighting to keep its budget.
Sample letter 2
As a member of the Auction Committee, I am writing to invite you to participate in Charity ABC’s Gala, an extraordinary event supporting Charity Health Centers for Indigent Children (HCIC). This black-tie gala will be held on Saturday, May 9 at 6:30 PM at the Ritz Carlton Miami Beach and promises to be a fun-filled evening.
Sample letter 2 edited
Opening sentence (using the ‘attention getting phrase’ approach)
Right now in our neighborhood, every fourth child is uninsured. The average child brought to Charity Health Center for Indigent Children (HCIC) is 9 years old, part of a family with X siblings and one guardian, and has been attending local schools for 2 years. Their head of the household is working (usually two jobs at minimum wage), but has no access to healthcare. When that child is sick, our HCIC heals them.
Sample letter 3
Charity ABC, more popularly known as Charity, is the only organization in the United States that helps women who have experienced domestic violence and human trafficking to find financial independence through meaningful careers. Without the support of our community, we can not continue to assist these women. This is why we invite you to join Charity at our annual fundraiser ….
Sample letter 3 edited
Opening sentence, using Sandra’s narrative and true story (I actually like the above opening but I’ll try a different approach just for style.)
Jane Smith enjoys a well-paying editing job at Booz Allen, makes a monthly mortgage payment, and has just enrolled her son in private school. But five years ago, she walked through our doors with a broken nose and bruises on her body. Her 11-year old son stood next to her. After providing her with medical care, we put her through job search training, tweaked her resume, and developed her interview skills. She was offered three jobs. That’s the power of Charity ABC. Today, I’m inviting you to help make a difference.
Whew! These might not be my best work, but it’s the best I can write in 20 minutes.
Was this helpful? I suspect some of you might be ready to tweak your auction donation request letters.
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