Are you in full-time ministry? Then you probably are familiar with fundraising in some form or another. Let’s talk specifics for completing an end-of-year (or start-of-year) funding appeal.
End-of-year appeal letters should be part of every mission worker’s funding strategy.
Reaching 100 percent funding is difficult if you are relying on anchor gifts and monthly giving alone. A cash appeal letter to non-donors gives others an opportunity for greater involvement in the Kingdom through your ministry.
Before you send your appeal letter or email, use this checklist to evaluate your message.
Ask yourself, did I . . .
- Include a response slip or link? Give your readers a vehicle for their faith. For email—give them a live link. (Send as many hard copies as possible. You will get better results.)
- Add the appeal into my regular newsletter? You will get fewer responses. Your hard-copy appeal letter can be more than one page. E-mail? Short! One screen.
- Passionately focus on my vision? No one cares about your ‘needs.’ Discard that word from your vocabulary. Passionately describe your ministry dreams for the coming year!
- Clearly state the financial goal? And how the money will be used?
- Offer readers a range of finance responses? Donors like to know what they can do that will help you. Include only financial responses, not to “sign up for a conference.”
- Communicate urgency—a due date? Make it 4-6 weeks out. Why this date?
- Explain how to make a gift? Don’t assume readers remember your website. Give them a return envelope. Stamp not necessary.
- Tell an emotional un-finished ministry story? Giving decisions are emotional as well as logical.
- Personally hand-sign each letter? Is my signature legible? Non-legible signatures communicate disdain for your readers.
- Apologize for asking? Apologetic appeals de-value your readers. Do not apologize for inviting them to be a part of your ministry.
- Whine? Call the “Wahmbulance!” No one likes to receive “woe-is-me” letters.
- Include every person on my mailing list? Give your non-donors a chance to join you mission. Worried about a family member or skeptical friend hating your letter? Don’t mail their envelope!
- Pray at the post office or before I hit ‘send?’ This is God’s work. Do your best, but trust Him.
Following this checklist will not guarantee funding. Kingdom ministry is not accomplished by formula. Poorly written letters sometimes get excellent results, and “correct” letters sometime flop. But following these tips will make your letter more understandable and more motivating. Your project must have God’s fingerprints on it.
For fourteen years Scott Morton led Navigator campus and marketplace ministries, both stateside and overseas. For 12 years he served as Vice President of The Navigators US Development Ministry. Scott enjoys helping people grow in their spiritual journeys through small-group Bible studies and one-on-one mentoring. He has written numerous articles for Discipleship Journal and is the author of Funding Your Ministry: A Field Guide for Raising Personal Support. He and his wife, Alma, live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.