Churches of all sizes and denominations need money for their work. You can’t pray the invoices away—even if you really want to.
And though the need for funding is clear, fundraising itself can be a challenging task. One of the most common and effective ways to raise money for your church is through fundraising letters. These appeals allow you to reach a large number of individuals and share your story and need for financial support in a cost-efficient way.
Church fundraising letters inspire individuals to donate, and they can raise significant funds for your congregation and its mission. And if you need help getting started, GivingMail would love to be of assistance.
Here at GivingMail, our team is powered by over 70 years of experience in fundraising, have worked with hundreds of the world’s top charities and churches, and raised millions of dollars. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful resource to provide you with tips and insights for better results and stronger relationships with your church community.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the following:
- Church Fundraising Letters FAQ
- Writing Your Church Fundraising Letters
- Sending Your Church Fundraising Letters
- Church Fundraising Acknowledgment Letters
At first glance, writing and sending your church’s fundraising letters may seem simple, but there are actually a lot of techniques that drive the most effective appeals. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain some of these best practices, and share templates and examples to help power your mission. Let’s jump in!
Church Fundraising Letters FAQ
Whether you are about to write your first fundraising letter, or looking for ways to improve your results, our team would love to help. By answering any questions you might have, we’d love the opportunity to help you bring your fundraising to the next level.
Here are some frequently asked questions (and our expertly crafted answers):
Why are church fundraising letters important?
Church fundraising letters are an effective and efficient way to raise funds for churches of all sizes. Fundraising letters allow you to communicate with many individuals in a personal and timely manner. These powerful appeals give you the space to explain the need or problem you’re addressing, convey emotion, tell stories, and make a clear and specific ask of the donor.
While the goal of fundraising letters is to inspire donations, the letters also give you the opportunity to thank donors for their previous support and to share how their contributions have already made a difference. In this way, fundraising letters help build stronger relationships with donors for the long term.
How do you write a church donation letter?
Before you starting writing a donation letter, it is important to take a step back and consider what you are asking of your donors and why. Why do you need a donation? Why do you need it now? How can you most clearly explain it to your audience? Is there is a story that could help illustrate the need? Consider crafting an outline to help organize your thoughts before diving deep into the content.
It’s a good idea to start with a church fundraising letter template that will speak to a large group of donors. However, you will want to then tweak and personalize each letter to the intended recipient. It is best practice to personalize whenever possible, such as addressing the donor by their preferred name and including ask amounts based on the donor’s previous giving history. This shows the donor that you know them and have created an appeal specific for them.
You may also want to segment your audience based on previous engagement history. For example, those who volunteer at your weekly services might receive a different variation of the letter than those who have not yet volunteered.
Finally, remember to conclude your donation letter with a P.S. (as this is actually the most read part of any fundraising letter!).
How does a church fundraising letter differ from a general fundraising letter?
Church fundraising letters are especially powerful and effective. That’s because the recipients, (likely existing church members), already believe in and support your church, and are committed to the work you are doing in your community. Simply put, they want to help.
Some churchgoers also believe “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” with many practice tithing as part of their faith. For these reasons, church fundraising can yield especially strong results.
What are the main types of church fundraising letters?
There are many unique types of church fundraising letters you can send to your congregants, donors, and other supporters. The main types of church fundraising letters include (but are not limited to!) the following:
- General fund letters speak to the needs of the church on a regular basis. Here you will talk about the church’s mission, and how the donor’s support will make a difference.
- Building fund letters are specific to the needs of the church building itself. For example, you would send a letter like this if you need a new addition to the church itself. You can also use this type of letter to detail the need for repairs, such as a new heater.
- Mission trip letters describe the mission trips that church members are going on, and the impact these missions will have. You can explain the various costs, and the need for funding to make these trips possible.
- Special event letters are used to raise money for events your church will host. This could be any event or series of events, such as one held by a youth group or Bible study.
- Missionary support letters talk about the great work missionaries are doing or planning to do, and the success of previous missions.
Essentially, if there’s a fundraising need, there’s a fundraising letter to send. Then, after you receive financial support from your donors and churchgoers, there are fundraising acknowledgment letters (which we’ll cover in-depth in a later section).
Writing Your Church Fundraising Letters
The first step in writing your church fundraising letters is creating a basic letter that can be tailored and personalized to each recipient.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- The most effective fundraising letters are personal. They feel like they were written just for you. They use a warm tone, and emphasize the words “you” rather than “I” and “we.”
- Fundraising letters should use emotion. Storytelling can be an especially powerful strategy to illustrate the problem and your intended solution. Remember, the donor is always the hero in the story.
- Your ask should be clear and specific. Donors should understand exactly what you are asking for and exactly how it will make a difference.
When you take these best practices into consideration, you ensure your church fundraising letters yield extraordinary results. Best of all—these tips can (and should) be incorporated even if you start with a template like the one below.
Church Fundraising Letter Template
Dear [First Name],
[An attention-grabbing first sentence. Think of something that will pique the reader’s interest to keep reading.]
[Share a story about an individual who was struggling and has been helped by the church. Describe problem the individual was facing and how they were helped.]
[First Name], I am so grateful for your previous support. We are so blessed to have you as a member of the [church name] community. You have made a difference in [individual from story]’s life and many others. You are truly a blessing.
Today I am again asking for your help. There are many more like [individual from story] who need assistance. Your financial support is needed to [continue the project or pursue a new one].
With your support, we can [refer to your project or mission].
Would you please consider giving [personalized gift amount based on previous giving] or even [higher gift ask]?
Thanks again for your support of [church name].
[Name of a well-known leader in your church]
P.S.- [Repeat ask and explain how they can make their gift.]
Church Fundraising Letter Example
I will never forget the look of wonder on their faces when I first saw them at the airport.
Abdul and Bahara were worn out, physically and mentally, from their long trip from Afghanistan and the troubles they had left behind. But when they saw me, their faces immediately lit up with gratitude and hope.
Because of you, Abdul and Bahara were welcomed at the airport and brought back to their new apartment. We were able to help them with rent, food, and assisted them with job training and placement.
Most importantly, we served as trustworthy and caring friends. We helped them navigate a new country and culture so they never felt alone.
Today, Abdul and Bahara are thriving members of the Silver Spring community—and regular attendees of our 5:00 mass.
Katherine, I am so grateful for your previous support. We are so blessed to have you as a member of the Grace Church community. You have made a difference in Abdul and Bahara’s lives. You are truly a blessing.
Today I am again asking for your help. We are expecting a new family to arrive from Afghanistan next month. This family includes a husband, wife, and their 4 young children. Your prayers and financial support is needed to help welcome this new family to America, and to set them up for success as our neighbors.
With your support, we can help this young family find and furnish a new home, and begin their new lives with schooling, jobs, and the support and friendship they will need to flourish.
Would you please consider giving $50 or even $100 to help this new family get settled in?
Grace Church is a community of faith, striving to deepen our connection with God and with each other. We do this through worship, and through service to others.
Katherine, thank you again for your support of Grace Church and our important Refugee Ministry. I—as well as the countless individuals your support has gone to help—am most grateful.
Reverend Richard Smith
P.S.- Please send your donation to the church office at 123 Maple Street or visit our online donation page at gracechurch.com/give to support our new family from Afghanistan. Your support today will make such a difference for this young family. Thank you!
Sending Your Church Fundraising Letters
Now that you have written the perfect fundraising letter, you need to determine the best way to get the letter printed and distributed to your donors. There are two overarching approaches to take here: one is to handle the printing and mailing yourself, while the other is to hire an experienced outside partner to get the job done.
Let’s explore both options and provide you with the details you need to make an informed decision for your own church fundraising letters.
Taking a DIY approach
Some churches chose to handle the printing and mailing of fundraising letters on their own. If you’re considering this particular route, here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:
- Use high quality paper and envelopes that will stand out in the mail box and get your letter read.
- Make sure the printing is done well so that donors can easily read your letter and realize the effort you put into it.
- Always include a pre-addressed reply envelope to make it as easy as possible for the donor to send their contribution back to you.
- Be aware of postage weights, rates, and regulations to ensure your letters mail as quickly as possible.
Before making this choice, make sure you have the time and labor available to handle this internally, as often times it is more time-consuming that expected.
Working with a direct mail partner
Your other big choice is to send your church’s fundraising letters through a dedicated direct mail fundraising platform. These direct mail companies have the benefit of knowing the in’s and out’s of mail production and delivery, and can be a fantastic choice for churches and fundraising organizations of all shapes and sizes.
And while you will be paying for their services, outside agencies (such as GivingMail) can actually save you money by bundling your letters with other clients. This way, they can save you significant amounts of money on printing and postage—not to mention time and effort—by working with an expert.
Our suggestion? Choose a direct mail partner to streamline and simplify your church fundraising letter campaign. Then, you can reinvest all the time and money you save back into your mission. It’s a win-win!
Church Fundraising Acknowledgment Letters
Sending out donor acknowledgement letters is an essential part of fundraising. In fact, sending out prompt and personalized thank-you letters can even increase donor retention rates by up to 39%!
Thus, your goal should be to send your acknowledgment letter within 48 hours of receiving the contribution. Keep your acknowledgement letters simple and straightforward, be warm and friendly, and praise the donor for their generosity.
The importance of thanking your donors
A personal, prompt, and sincere thank you is one way to help retain donors. But why is this so important?
Thanking your donors is vital for showing your appreciation, helping the individual understand how they have made a difference, and growing the relationship with the donor. This is the right thing to do, and it will lead to continued support in the future.
After all, retained donors are much more valuable than new donors—they give more and they give more frequently.
Plus, it takes a lot of money to continuously bring in new donors, so you want to minimize the need to do so. That’s why you want to make sure you are focused on keeping the donors that you have, showing them the impact they are having, and inspiring future gifts.
Your number one goal with a thank-you letter is to make the donor feel like a hero. Show your sincere appreciation, and explain the impact of the gift and how the donor is specifically making a difference.
Personalizing your fundraising acknowledgment letters
Your acknowledgement letter should be personalized with the donor’s name, gift amount, and gift date—just like the initial fundraising ask was. Just make sure this information is correct, as a mistake here will likely rub the recipient the wrong way. Your donor management software can be a huge help at this stage in the process!
Then, you want to make sure the copy reflects the cause or campaign the donor has given to specifically, while also reinforcing your larger mission as a whole.
It’s a good idea to send an acknowledgment letter to all donors, regardless of the gift amount and donation channel they used to contribute. For example, even your online donors should receive an acknowledgment letter in the mail. You might already be sending them an automated email acknowledgment and gift receipt, but there is just something more impactful about receiving a physical thank-you letter in the mail that you don’t want to miss out on.
Church fundraising letters are a powerful, personal, and effective way to reach members of your church and inspire them to make a contribution. Just remember, the way you write and send your fundraising appeals can make a big difference in the overall results of your giving campaign.
The team at GivingMail stands ready to assist you in your fundraising efforts with our single, easy-to-use direct mail fundraising platform. Trusted by churches and nonprofits nationwide, our solution will actually save you time and money—so you can dedicate more to the important work of your church.
For more information on writing and sending strategic fundraising letters, be sure to check out our other helpful resources:
- Donor Management Software: 9 Providers (& What to Look For). This guide will explain donor management software and help you pick out the best system for your church.
- Direct Mail Appeals: How to Crush Your Fundraising Campaigns. Here’s even more advice on how to craft the most compelling and effective direct mail letters.
- How to Ask for Donations: Tips for Smarter Fundraising. Getting the ask right is key in fundraising. Here are some tips to make sure your ask is clear, on target, and will inspire donors.