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Ten "Commandments" for Writing Better Letters

All Purpose Letter Writing Outline

Tips For Using This Book

Table of Contents

Chapter 1
Letters to Members of All Ages

Chapter 2
Letters to Other Members

Chapter 3
Letters to Nonmembers

Chapter 4
Letters to Church Staff

Chapter 5
Letters to the Community

Chapter 6
Letters to the Media

Chapter 7
Letters to Vendors

Chapter 8
Letters for Special Occasions

Chapter 9
Letters of Acceptance, Confirmation, Invitations, & Refusal

Chapter 10
Letters to Raise Funds

Chapter 11
Letters to Colleagues

Chapter 12
Letters of Policy & Doctrine

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Chapter 10 Letters to Raise Funds

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While businesses rely on the sales of goods and services to pro duce income, and government survives on taxes, the church must rely on the goodwill of others for its funds.

Fundraising is especially sensitive, since many may be skeptical of the good a church can provide. Asking for money must be done in an open, straightforward, and honest manner.

When asking for contributions, it is important to be specific about the need and how the funds will be used. The minister should always be ready to provide a complete and detailed financial statement showing exactly how much money the church has taken in and given out. A good steward need not be ashamed asking for support from members and from businesses and the community at large.

Churches provide valuable and needed services to their communities, and the minister should be bold in asking those who can help to share from their bounty by contributing to the needs of the church.

10-1 / To Businesses about Church Ministries: Food Pantry for Poor


As you may know, St. Michael’s Church has run a food pantry for the poor for several years. We average helping five to ten families and individuals a week, and since we are the only group in the city putting on this type of ministry, the need is great.

In the past, we have solicited contributions and donations of food items from members of our parish. However, within the past six months, the number of people coming to the pantry has almost doubled. Therefore, we find ourselves in the position of requiring additional supplies.

As a local business, you have been generous in helping our community in the past. Your assistance now would be greatly appreciated. Donations of canned goods, paper products, etc. are welcome, as are cash contributions.

Thank you for anything you can do at this time to aid the hungry in our area.

10-2 / To Businesses about Emergencies: Families Losing Homes to Fire

As you may know, two families in our community recently lost their homes and possessions to fires. Both of these families are members of our congregation, and we are making every effort to help them recover from this tragedy.

Although we are receiving a great deal of clothing, food, etc. from within the church, we would also like to be able to give them some new things. Perhaps you would welcome the opportunity to be a part of recreating their lives.

Especially needed are the following: drapes/curtain rods, meat, toys, paper goods such as toilet paper and facial tissues, bicycles, shoes, and underwear. In addition, almost anything in the way of furniture could be put to good use.

If you would like to make a donation in the name of community service, please call the church office to arrange delivery. We would appreciate very much whatever you can do.

10-3 / To Businesses about Special Projects: Funds for Organ Transplant

In the following letter, notice how the letter writer uses an informal personal appeal. Especially effective are giving the businesses the option of a pledge or of refreshments, and having the youth actually do something to raise the funds instead of merely requesting donations.

If you’re like most people in CITY, STATE, you have noticed the recent newspaper stories about little NAME, the six year old boy from our area who is in need of a liver transplant. Unfortunately, his condition has continued to deteriorate, and if he does not get a new organ soon, he will not survive much longer.

Naturally, this type of surgery requires a large amount of financial backing. Through car washes, bake sales, etc., over $00,000 has already been raised for NAME. But much more is needed.

In an effort to bring in some more of this money, the youth at St. Michael’s have determined to hold a Rock-a-Thon on DAY, MONTH XX, from 7:00 PM until 7:00 AM Over 30 young people have committed themselves to this and are currently gathering pledges for each hour they rock.

Since you are a community minded business, we want to offer you the opportunity to get involved in this worthwhile project. We would appreciate any donations of food for the youth to eat as they rock all night, or, if you would prefer, a pledge for cash to go to NAME.

Thank you for whatever you can do.

10-4 / To Church Members about Church Ministries: TV Ministry

This letter in regard to a church’s TV ministry employs a useful technique – a testimonial from someone who directly benefited from the thing for which funds are being raised. And because she is from outside the church, even more credibility is established.

Recently I received the following letter:

Dear Pastor, Lately things in my life had not been going well. My husband and I didn’t have much of a marriage left, and our oldest child was causing us a lot of grief. I really wondered if there was any reason to go on living. Then I happened to tune in your TV program on channel 8. At first, I thought I would turn it off, since I have never had much use for religion. But I kept listening anyway. You made the love of God sound so real and personal that I got tears in my eyes. I knew that with God’s help, I could keep going and that He would work things out. So far, my husband and child don’t seem any different. But I am, and I thank you for it.

What a marvelous testimony of God reaching someone through the television ministry at Community Church! Who knows what might have happened to this dear lady, had she not turned on the TV that night?

And when she expresses her thanks, it’s you whom she’s addressing. Each person who has contributed to the fund for the TV ministry is directly responsible for changed lives like the woman who wrote that letter.

A number of letters like this one have been sent to the church. While the individual circumstances may vary, each person has one thing in common: he or she has been touched by Jesus as a result of the TV program.

In addition, I understand that for each person who takes the time to write, about ten times that many are equally ministered to but don’t get around to writing.

Yes, the TV ministry is making a difference in our city, and that’s why I want it to continue to air each week. In order to do that, we need your prayers and your financial help. Although the camera operators and technicians donate their time to tape the programs, there are still expenses: for the air time and for supplies and equipment.

Please carefully consider how you might help in this ministry. How many others are out there like the lady whose letter I received? How many more are there who need the love of Christ and can find it as near as their own living room, if we continue to be faithful in this calling? Thank you.

10-5 / To Church Members about Debt Retirement

As the New Year approaches, the church council has felt led to set a specific goal for 200X, that being, eliminate our indebtedness. At this time, we owe a total of $000,000. If our regular schedule of payments is continued, the bond issue will be paid off in two years and the mort gage will not be paid off until six months afterwards.

Beginning on MONTH XX, we would like to start making a monthly deposit of $00,000 for the Bond Issue. If this schedule is abided by, we can expect the debt to be paid back by MONTH XX, 200X.

We would keep on paying our mortgage payment at the same rate we have been. As I’m certain you realize, being debt free would be a wonderful testimony to our community of God’s faithfulness. I believe that He would have us unite our hearts in this worthy goal, that we might go on to bigger tasks in the year following this one, unhindered by debt.

How can you help? There are three ways. First, consider a special gift in your Christmas offering. You may mark it to go toward debt retirement. As you know, we will be sending a portion of the offering to our missionary office and to the local shelter for victims of domestic violence, but all gifts designated for the debt will go directly to that fund, as well as a third of undesignated gifts.

A second way you can help us reach our goal is to pledge to give $1.00 per week especially for this cause. If each adult in the congregation gave this small amount each Sunday for a year, so marking on the envelope, we would achieve great progress toward our goal.

Finally, you may prefer to give a one time gift of any amount to this fund.

I appeal to you to prayerfully consider the preceding options and do your part to help us reach our goal of debt retirement in the coming year. Thank you.

10-6 / To Church Members about Emergencies: Families Who Lost Homes in Fires

Most of you are already aware that during the past week, two families at Community Church lost their homes and possessions in fires. Can you imagine how you would feel to never again see your children’s baby pictures, your great-grandmother’s handmade quilt, or your wedding gown? And what about all those familiar things that made your house special, like the mounted fish you caught when you were ten, the autographed copy of a book by your favorite author, and the picture you embroidered?

While we cannot replace these things, we can help supply the basic needs of these families who have lost so much. At the moment, the greatest aid would be cash donations to be used to locate housing for the victims. Please ask God if He would have you contribute to this fund, and if so, how much. Then make out your check to “Community Church housing need” and mail or bring it here as soon as possible.

In the near future, we will be collecting clothing, food, and household items to donate to the families as they begin to get established in new locations. Perhaps you can start to save now for this.

Most importantly, do keep the NAME s and the NAME s lifted up in prayer. Though I’m certain they are thanking God that there was no loss of life in the fires, they are going through a very difficult time. Very few of us will ever really understand what it means to lose all material goods.

You have my heartfelt thanks for your generosity.

10-7 / To Church Members about Evangelism Outreach: Christian Concert

As you probably know, contemporary Christian musician NAME is coming MONTH XX. We have been greatly excited about this opportunity to reach out into the community with the good news about Jesus.

But as the planning committee has met and prayed about the concert, it became clear that Community Church might not be the best location. Many people automatically ignore the invitation to attend anything held at a place of worship. If our major goal for NAME’s coming is to expose the unchurched to the Gospel message, then it seems plain that the place to do it is somewhere neutral.

With that in mind, we have tentatively reserved the high school auditorium for the con cert. We feel that many more people will come to the school who would not enter a church.

However, in planning expenses for the concert, we did not anticipate having to pay rent for the location. We need your help! Please seek God and, if you can, join us in financially supporting this endeavor.

There are so many out there who are living empty, hopeless lives. If they knew of the abundant life that Jesus has for them, they would embrace it. Let’s do our part to see that they do hear about it.

Thank you.

10-8 / To Church Members about Expansion

Plans for a new building are almost certain to raise controversy. In this example, possible objections to the program are brought up and refuted, and the dubious are reassured that the main focus of the church is not changing.

Exciting things have been happening at Community Church! One of them is that for the past six months, attendance at the morning worship service has been averaging over 300. Praise God!

While having large numbers of people is not a prime objective for us, it is encouraging to see that more and more are finding a church home which ministers to their needs.

However, you may have noticed that it is extremely difficult for a congregation of this size to fit into our sanctuary. Every Sunday, chairs have to be set up in the aisles, which is inconvenient as well as uncomfortable.

In discussing this problem with the council, we have determined that it is time to begin plans for a new, larger building. A committee is being formed to investigate the matter, and they will be checking into the possibilities of buying a building or constructing one.

Although actually being in a new location is not going to take place for some time, the council has voted to set up a building fund. If each of us would faithfully give just a small amount to this project on a regular basis, we would have the finances when they are needed.

I realize that a new building is not a priority for some. They would rather see the money going to helping the poor or reaching out to those who don’t know Jesus. Their feelings are certainly justified.

On the other hand, the church cannot carry out its ministry if the building is not large enough to hold the congregation. Community Church must have a bigger sanctuary, although not at the cost of funneling all donations into this, nor at the expense of our current ministries.

But I’m praying that God will speak to your heart about the importance of the building fund, and that you will be able to contribute to it, even if all you can give is a small amount.

The real mission of our church – to lead people into a personal relationship with Christ and to help them grow in this relationship – is still our focal point. Yet in order to do it well, we must have adequate facilities.

I enclose a building fund envelope for your convenience. Thank you for your help.

10-9 / To Church Members about Missions

How much do you spend a week on coffee and on soda? Perhaps a dollar or two?

If you’re like me, you don’t think too much about that cup of coffee you grab at the drive through on your way to work or that soda you pick up after an evening meeting. After all, it doesn’t add up to much money.

But if you were to take that same amount and give it to missions each week, how much more it could accomplish! Even only five dollars a month totals $60 annually. If every family in the church would commit itself to that figure for missions, we would have over $00,000. Just think how many people could be helped with that amount of money – churches built, Bibles purchased, pastors trained, all this and more.

Wouldn’t you like to be a part of the ongoing work of God’s kingdom? At $5 a month, it’s the bargain of the century. I challenge you now to purpose to find that extra few dollars and give it to the church’s missions program. Perhaps it’ll mean a couple less sodas or maybe one less night out at McDonald’s. But the long-term results will be heavenly!

10-10 / To Church Members about Plant Maintenance

As you may have noticed lately, Community Church has had more than one occasion when rain drops literally were falling on our heads, as the song goes. The board has had the roof inspected, and based on the opinion of several experts, a decision has been made to replace it.

Although we have repaired the roof before, it has now reached the point where the work required is so extensive that it can no longer be patched. Not only is it awkward to have to place buckets around the church to catch the rain, but the more water which leaks down through the ceiling, the more permanent damage is done. We simply cannot hold off any longer on this much needed maintenance.

After much discussion and prayer, the board had felt led to go ahead and advertise for bids for a new roof for the entire building. It is expected to cost in the area of $00,000. The problem is that currently, money available for this project totals only $0,000, only about one-third of the estimated expense.

I realize that it’s much more gratifying to give to missions or needy families or a new or organ. All of us like to see what our dollars accomplish, and merely putting on a roof isn’t that exciting. In addition, we still need your regular tithe to carry out the ongoing expenses of the church.

But I sincerely hope that you will ask the Lord how you can help finance this important project. The board would like to see the new roof installed before winter’s rains and snows, which would further damage the old one.

Personally, I would rather see this sum of money used to increase the outreach of the church. Yet all the many ministries we have cannot function if the building is not properly maintained.

I enclose an envelope for your contribution. If you have any questions, please contact my office or any board member. Thank you for your help.

10-11 / To Church Members about Special Events: Visiting Evangelist

We have before us an exceptional opportunity. When you hear about it, I hope you will be as excited as I am!

On MONTH XX, the renowned evangelist NAME will be speaking at Faith Memorial Church in CITY, STATE. Perhaps some of you were planning to attend the service. On MONTH XX, NAME had planned to go to Maple Grove Community Church. But because of various circumstances, he will be unable to speak there on that date. His office has contacted me, indicating that if we are interested, he would instead come here.

Several years ago, I had the great privilege of hearing NAME preach at a conference I attended. His message was one of the most powerful I have ever heard. I am absolutely convinced that having him here would be a tremendous blessing to our congregation as well as to the community. It’s very unlikely that we would ever again have this chance to have him in our church, since he is so busy that he usually only addresses conferences or large fellowships.

However, if we were to have NAME at Community Church, there would be a financial investment of approximately $0,000. We do not have this money in the budget.

I am asking you to seek God about whether or not we should take advantage of this opportunity. NAME must know within two weeks if we want him. If you feel this would be an asset for our congregation, please have your contribution mailed or brought to the church in the enclosed envelope by DAY, MONTH XX. If we have raised one third of the required amount by the time, I will know that your answer is yes. I pray that it will be.

10-12 / To Church Members about Special Projects: Housing for Needy Members

For many of us, winter is not a season to which we look forward. The snow and cold are inconvenient; the heavy coats awkward. It’s a time we could just as well do without, or at least shorten to only a month or two.

Yet for some, winter is much worse. To those in inadequate housing, the storms and low temperatures are near torture, as the icy fingers of the season penetrate into each room. Hands and feet are never quite warm enough.

Perhaps you did not realize that one of our own members at Community Church is in this very situation. She simply cannot spend another winter in her present location, and the Love at Work fund has decided to find her another house which will keep her and her family warm during the coming cold months.

Because this need is quite a bit larger than most that the fund handles, there aren’t enough funds available at the present time. I’m asking you to make a special sacrificial gift toward the housing project, in order that our sister can be moved in time. Yes, the amount of money needed seems great, and of course the church continues to need finances for the usual minis tries. But I know the generosity of Community Church when something like this arises, and I am confident that the amount will be available in time.

10-13 / To Community Organizations about Church Ministries: Crisis Pregnancy Center

For several years now, Community Church has felt a special concern for women facing crisis pregnancies. Several of our members have taken young women into their homes until their babies have been born, and we have helped place a couple of babies into adoptive homes.

But in the last six months, we have decided that we would like to get more involved in this type of work. Therefore, we are in the process of opening a home for unwed mothers to be. Tentative plans call for this home to open in MONTH, 200X, with facilities for four to six women.

To this end, we are in need of just about everything to outfit the house where these young women will be staying. As an organization committed to helping within the community, we wanted to give you a chance to be a part of the work we are beginning. Would you consider being one of the original sponsors of the home?

Your assistance may come in the form of a one time gift or an ongoing commitment to be paid monthly, semiannually, or annually.

May we hear from you as soon as possible?

10-14 / To Community Organizations about Plant Maintenance

As you have probably noticed, the furnace has not been working well in our building for some time. We recently called a repairman to evaluate the situation, and were dismayed to discover that the work needed is so extensive that the only thing to do at this point is to replace the entire unit.

A new furnace of the size and type required will cost approximately $00,000. Although we had been aware for some time that the heating unit was old and not working properly, we did not think it would need to be replaced for several more years. Therefore, the money is not currently available.

However, we do not feel it is fair for the children attending our school to have to try to ‘earn in a chilly environment, so we are going ahead and ordering the replacement unit.

We have asked the families within the parish to make a special gift at this time to help finance it. Since your group meets in our building, we thought you too might be willing to consider a donation for this purpose.

10-15 / To Community Organizations about Special Events: Substance Abuse Speaker

Even in as small a town as CITY, drug and alcohol abuse exists. In fact, if the truth was to be known, the number of youth and adults in our community who are involved in it is significant.

As a congregation, we are concerned about this problem and wish to do something about it, as I’m sure your group does. It appears that one of the steps to decreasing substance abuse in any area is education. When our youth are informed about the dangers and misconceptions of drugs and alcohol, they are better able to resist the pressure to try it themselves, and they may even influence family and friends to stop.

Therefore, we would like to bring NAME to CITY, STATE to put on an assembly for the high school this spring. An alcoholic since the age of twelve, NAME spent three years in prison for crimes committed as a result of his habit. But while there, his life turned around, and he now travels across the nation, speaking about his experiences with drugs and alcohol and urging youth to avoid them. He is a powerful speaker, and as one who has been there himself, he is respected by young people.

However, the expense for bringing NAME here is $0,000, more than what we as a synagogue can afford. Would your group consider making a one time contribution to this special assembly? Any amount would be helpful. Thank you in advance for anything you can do.

10-16 / To Individual Benefactors about Evangelism Outreach: Christian Movies

As you know, Community Church has always attempted to share the love of Christ with our community. This has taken different forms, including a concert at the high school and a gym/swim day at the YMCA. These activities held outside the church building have been highly successful in bringing into the family of God people who would not come to a regular worship service.

With this in mind, we have scheduled a series of movies on the family to be shown Tues day evenings beginning on MONTH XX. The series features well-known Christian physician NAME, and is in four parts. Because many people are interested in bettering their family life, we are hopeful that this too will bring a number of unchurched people in contact with the Lord Himself.

As you can imagine, expenses for this type of outreach are high. In addition to the cost of the movie rental, we are paying to use the high school auditorium and have purchased literature to pass out after each presentation. While there is money in the church budget for this type of project, we do not have enough at this time. We have described the need during morning worship, and a number of members have come forth with special gifts for the movie series.

However, in order to meet the bills which we know of (movie and auditorium rental), we still must have additional funds of $0,000. If you feel this is a worthwhile project, please send your gift marked “movie outreach” to the church. We appreciate anything you can do.

10-17 / To Individual Benefactors about Expansion

Those who attend regularly would be aware of the problems of meeting in too small a facility, but by listing each one by itself in a set apart format, they are emphasized. Recipients might find themselves saying, “I knew about all those, but I didn’t realize there were so many. . .”

As you may know, over the past two years we have been seeking God’s direction for a worship center. Let us consider some of the needs which are not being met by our present location:

  • Sanctuary too small,
  • Cramped quarters for music ministry,
  • Poor parking,
  • Sunday school rooms too small and not enough,
  • Poor heating system and lighting,
  • No church office,
  • No storage.

Obviously, there are many areas which are woefully inadequate for our congregation. But in order to take a step forward – either by buying and converting an existing building or constructing one ourselves – we will have to have a great deal more than is currently in the building fund. May I personally challenge you to consider making a gift for this purpose?

In the past, you have helped us several times with large contributions on occasions on which they were badly needed, and your generosity has been much appreciated. This would certainly qualify as one of those situations; your assistance would be gratefully received.

Should you have any questions or wish to discuss the issue in more depth, I would be happy to meet with you at any time.

10-18 / To Individual Benefactors about Missions

Two years ago, the board of deacons established a program to help people in our area. They called it the Meal-a-Week Offering; the idea was that each member would forgo one meal a week and give one dollar that would have been spent to eat to this offering. In this way, the deacons could give money to various agencies in the city to aid local families and individuals. Agencies selected to receive these funds were Samaritan House, Rescue Mission, and Salvation Army.

Since MONTH, 200X, we have received approximately $0,000 through the weekly offering to Meal-a-Week. In addition, a number of small gifts have been made to go specifically to one of the agencies. You can see that just a small regular gift has made a significant difference in caring for the needs of the people in our area.

I am writing to you at this time because, currently, the Meal-a-Week fund is very low. While members of our congregation have continued to be faithful in giving to it, the money is being spent on a regular basis. In order to keep up this important mission, we need to build up the fund.

This letter is being sent to you and just eight other people. If you feel that what we are doing is important, I would ask for your gift to be sent to the church, marked “Meal-a-Week.”

I know there are many calls upon you for your donations, and you alone must decide which are worthy of your interest. I hope that you will prayerfully consider this mission’s project.

10-19 / To Individual Benefactors about Plant Maintenance

Occasionally, it’s appropriate to ask individuals with the financial means to donate to a specific project. Note in this example the matter–of–fact tone, which doesn’t beg, and the specific details of the situation, so that the recipient can make an in formed choice as to whether he/she will support the project.

As you may have recently noticed, a major problem with the church’s roof has developed. It is now in such a state of disrepair that when it rains, buckets to catch leaks have to be placed throughout the building in at least 20 locations.

Two experts have come in to check over the roof, and they are in agreement that it can no longer be merely repaired again. Based on their opinions, the board has made the decision that a new roof must be installed before the winter comes.

However, estimates for the job run approximately $00,000, and money currently avail able for the project amounts to only $0,000. We have issued a plea to church members for funds, and as you have been kind enough to donate to such projects before, we thought you might be willing to do so at this time.

I realize that contributing for a roof is not nearly as rewarding as it would be to construct a new building or to feed the hungry. But the mission of the church is hindered in facilities such as we have now.

On behalf of everyone at Community Church, permit me to thank you in advance for anything you can do to help with this need. God will bless you for your generosity.

10-20 / To Nonmembers about Emergencies: Local Tornado

As you know, clean up in our neighboring community of CITY, STATE is now beginning in earnest, following Monday’s destructive tornado. Many of the residents there lost everything they owned, and the process of rebuilding virtually the entire town will be a lengthy one.

In light of this tragedy, which left us untouched, a number of our citizens have joined together in an attempt to help CITY, STATE during this crisis. Temple Bet-Herut has been designated as the collection center for food, clothing, and furnishings. If you would care to donate any of the above, please bring them to the synagogue. Or if you need pick up for larger items, call and we will arrange it.

While we cannot begin to replace the great loss of sentimental possessions for our CITY, STATE neighbors, we can reach out with caring to lessen, even if only a little, the terrible trauma in which they find themselves. Thank you for your generosity.

10-21 / To Nonmembers about Missions: Christmas Offering

Have you ever thought about why the wise men bowed down and worshipped the Baby Jesus when they found Him in the stable? Here were men of wealth and power, respected for their wisdom, used to people honoring them. Yet they put aside all that at the sight of the Infant King.

The reason for their homage is obvious: they knew who Jesus was. Their actions and gifts were expressions of their adoration.

Today, we also come to worship the Holy Babe, and we, no less than they, bring of our selves. Recognizing Who He is, we can do no less.

But around the world are many who can honestly say they don’t know Jesus. Millions exist in an apparently hopeless world which reflects little of the peace and joy that we experience. This Christmas, I hope that you will bring a special gift for the sakes of these who long to find Him.

Our denomination is beginning a project to send missionaries, Bibles, and other Christian literature to South America, where so many live who need them. At Community Church, we have committed ourselves to a goal of $00,000 toward it. Although you are not a member of our congregation, you have attended upon occasion, and we wanted you to be aware of the project. We hope that you will also want to be a part of it.

When you bring your contribution, please mark it “Christmas Offering,” so that we will know where to put it. And as you do, think of your act of generosity as a gift to Christ Himself.

10-22 / To Nonmembers about Special Events: Concert by Local Talent

We are delighted to inform you of a special opportunity. On MONTH XX, Community Church will be holding a benefit concert put on by NAME. Many in our community are aware of the vocal talents of Mrs. NAME, and you are invited to spend an hour listening to her sing a variety of songs, from old-fashioned hymns to contemporary Christian.

While no admission will be charged, a freewill offering will be taken, with the funds going to send Mrs. NAME to a week-long conference in CITY, STATE for Christian musicians. This will enable her to further develop her talents.

If you cannot attend the concert but would still like to contribute towards Mrs. NAME’s trip, send donations to the church, marked “NAME Trip.”

Thank you for your help, and I hope to see you at the concert. You won’t be disappointed!

Copyright © by Stephen R. Clark. All rights reserved.