When you sit down to write your fundraising letter, first make a list of all the answers to this question: “Why am I doing this ride?” Your answers will help you to articulate what you’re excited about to your potential donors, who at the end of the day really want to support YOU and causes you’re excited about. The list will also help you tailor your letter for different audiences, for example – someone who is really into food issues might want to hear more about the Adamah farm; someone who has young kids might want to hear about how the Ride is intergenerational.
Here are a few reasons to ride that riders have used in their fundraising letters:
- I’m signing up for a big physical challenge / riding farther than I’ve ever ridden, etc.
- I love being part of a great community
- I’m riding because it’s a fun, wild thing to do: ride my bike from one place to another
- A great way to be Jewish, and show that I care about environmental issues as a cyclist and as a Jew
In addition to sharing your excitement, make sure your letter includes a few key pieces of information:
- How much you’re trying to raise
- How much you’re asking for (aim high!)
- How to donate (mail check, donate online)
- 1-2 examples of projects supported by the ride
Fundraising Letter Tips
Your fundraising letter is, above all, a letter from you to people you know and care about. The most important thing to keep in mind when writing your fundraising letter is your recipient. Who is going to be reading this? What would they like to read? There is no single magic fundraising letter but there are a lot of ways that you can make your letter great to help you raise more money.
Read all the tips below to get prepared. Write your base letter or start from one of our sample letters, then read the tips again. Did you forget anything? Can you make it better?
1) Pick the Right Delivery Option
Most people send their fundraising letters electronically, but there may be people on your list for whom a real letter is more appropriate. If you’re sending your letter by mail, enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope for people to send you a check.
If you’re sending an email, use the email features in your Convio Participant Center. Include links to your personal page so donors can get there easily. Don’t use the long link that you get when you go to your website. You should have a personal direct shortcut link, which you can edit if needed.
2) Be Personal
Don’t write “dear friends” or “dear all” – write “Hi Debbie.” Make clear that some thought has gone into who will receive your letter. Add at least one personal line (“I’m going to be in town…”).
3) Use Photos and Links
Attach a picture of you on your bike. If you’re sending an email, use hyperlinks to send people to find out more information about Hazon and the projects supported by the ride.
4) Tailor the length
In general, shorter is better. However, sometimes there is someone who you feel wants more information. Include more details about the Ride for your friends who are interested in cycling, or more information about the Grantees if your donor is interested in cutting-edge Jewish environmental projects.
5) Be specific
Give simple and specific instructions about how they can sponsor you. Include the link to your personal page. In case they decide to mail a check, include your home address. Include your fundraising goal, and make it ambitious. Put it in bold! Believe it or not, THE MORE YOU ASK FOR, THE MORE PEOPLE GIVE. Share what your personal financial commitment will be. People are often inspired to see your personal financial commitment and might even be willing to match it. “In addition to training, I am pledging $500 towards my fundraising goal.”
Ask for a specific amount and aim high. Say “Please consider a gift of $180.” They can choose to do so, or choose to give you more/less.
Send to the letter to everyone you know – especially relatives, even if you have not talked to them in a long time. Expand your circle of giving by including friends of friends and your children’s or parents’ friends. They will be thrilled to hear from you. People will be happy to support a cause that you think is important. Remember that you are not asking for money for your morning coffee. You are giving your friends, family, and colleagues the opportunity to be a part of a large-scale educational and awareness opportunity.
6) Follow Up
Remind people about your letter when you see them, and talk to them about the Ride. The most successful fundraiser in Hazon’s 2005 New York Ride received donations from more than 90 people. When asked the secret of his success, he said, “I sent out an email asking for money, and I kept on emailing people until they gave!”
If you are running an email campaign, send out follow up emails to everyone, even if they haven’t given (yet). Tell the people on your list about your training, or thank those (by name) who have already given – and encourage those who haven’t yet (“Oh, Aunt Martha gave so I should too!”) Seeing names of others who have given encourages others to give. Include the ride website on everything. People can donate to you directly through this site.
Here is a Sample Letter that is also set up in your Convio fundraising page as an email template.