Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fundraising: The Family Fundraising Letter

When I was accepted into massage school, I needed to come up with $3,000 for tuition. I needed the money in two months. My Action Plan was titled, “Family Fundraising Letters.”

My plan involved writing a personal request for money and sending it to friends and family members. The letters, which were addressed personally to each potential contributor, blended a professional request with a personal appeal. Without sounding like a sales pitch, I included: what I was doing with my life, why I thought a massage career would be beneficial to my own well being and valuable to our family, and then a request for a donation or a loan.

Potential contributors could either make a donation or a loan. Loans would be paid back with no interest over an agreed amount of time after graduation. To include everyone, (from Uncles with jobs to Cousins with piggy banks) I gave contributors the option to give by check in each of the following dollar increments: 5 / 25 / 50 / 75 / 200 / 500 / 1000 / 2000. With the letter I also included a SASE.

Within two weeks the envelopes started arriving back. Some contained money, others contained only congratulations and good luck. Three weeks before the deadline, I called anyone who I hadn’t heard from. By the time school started, I had raised all the necessary money.

The Family Fundraising Letter is a good technique to use when you have a specific plan in place for a product you want to create and a plan in which to repay the money. Notice that I didn’t just ask for donations, the loan option allowed those who wanted to “invest” in my career in a more traditional way to do so. 

Keep in mind that the Family Fundraising letter is generally a one shot deal, which means you only get to use it once. In other words, you won’t be able to send out a Family Fundraising Letter every time you have a potential project.

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