One of the example fundraising letters I happened to come across on the internet is from the Jeans for Genes campaign. It’s an organization that raises money for children with genetic disorders. They provide a lot of tools and templates for people who participate in the campaign including an example letter for parents.

This is also good example of what I try to teach letter writers — you can use other organization’s letters for inspiration and wording, but not usually an exact template.

Just like if you were writing a resume for a job, you’d get a book of example resumes. You’d copy the style, wording, layout from a variety of samples, picking and choosing what elements you like. But you wouldn’t copy Joe Smith’s qualifications. ;)

For example, in the Jeans example appeal letter the first sentence reads…

As a friend of/member of a family with a child affected by a serious genetic disorder, I would like to bring to your attention the national Jeans for Genes Appeal.

It’s easy to take that as an example and use it for other purposes and causes…

As a mother of a child affected by a cancer, I would like to bring to your attention the upcoming cancer research fund drive…

Or how about this one from the third paragraph of the same letter:

In the UK, one baby in every 33 is born with a genetic disorder or other birth defect. This means that…

This can easily be updated to fit your own situation, such as:

In the United States every day [number] of people are diagnosed with [condition]. This means that…

See what I mean? Inspiration and highlighting great writing strategies are the real value of example fundraising letters. And another reason why in my book, the 7 Essential Steps to Raising Money by Mail, I also included 321 sample words and phrases. Because many times you can take example words, phrases and even content ideas and apply them to many different organizations and causes.

Using wording that’s clear and compelling helps make the letter more interesting. It can also make the difference between a ho-hum letter that doesn’t get results and one that inspires your readers to donate.

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Posted on 19 January 2006

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