If you’ve ever gone on a mission trip or known someone who has, you’ve probably written or received a mission fundraising letter. Money raised through fundraising efforts go to support all aspects of the mission trip, including airfare, in-country travel, work done on the mission and daily subsistence while traveling. These letters and these trips are a staple of Christian missionary life.
That said, mission fundraising letters are all fairly standard. Many people in the Christian community may be feeling like their own budgets are stretched enough that they just can’t support everyone they know who’s traveling. So, how can you get your church community to support your mission? Work on your ask — essentially your fundraising letter. By making your letter stand out from the generic letters, you may reach someone who has a pocketful of excuses already prepared just for people like you. Try these tips to craft a winning letter.
1. Explain why you’re writing – In the first couple of sentences of your letter, explain in a straightforward way why you’re writing. You’re hitting the letter recipient up for money to support your cause, so just get it out there to break the ice.
2. Why now? – Answer the questions the recipient likely has – Why now? and why you? Chances are, she may know five other people preparing for a mission trip. Maybe you’ve developed a unique relationship with troubled Native American youth living in foster homes, or with women subsistence farmers in a drought-stricken African nation. Maybe you’ve never taken a mission trip but feel that the time is right, or maybe you reached a point in work or school where now you have the time to do travel. Either way, explain in poignant, clear language why the recipient should support your mission right now.
3. Offer a teaser about the trip – This is not the place to go into day-by-day detail on how you plan to build a public library/water purification system for the people of your mission community. But you won’t do a great job convincing the folks you know to support your mission if you don’t share some of your good news with them here. Write a paragraph that covers where you’ll go and what you hope to accomplish.
4. Convince them that you are ready for this – What makes a mission different from a vacation is that you’re there to work and make a real difference in the lives of mission community members. Demonstrate that you’re serious about this trip and committed to making a difference. Maybe you’ve started a book drive at work and plan to take the books with you to give to children. You should also purchase mission trip insurance plans with your own money, to cover the bases should anything happen while you are away.
Once you draft your letter, it’s time to spread the word by sending the letter to potential funders. You may decide that you prefer to ask in person, in which you can turn the letter into an elevator speech to give to potential funders. Asking for mission funds can get intimidating, but all of the concrete information you’ve brainstormed in your letter can help make this easier. Good luck in fundraising, and enjoy your trip!