In the last post, we talked about how having an introductory paragraph can help you clarify what your letter is about.
Even if you don’t choose to have a paragraph that summarizes the rest of the letter, it may be helpful for you to make an outline for yourself before you start writing your letter. Sometimes there are many points you need to cover for your supporters, so it’s helpful to have direction.
This isn’t to say you need to keep your letters as lean as possible, to cut the niceties and the excess details. Lively details will often help to capture attention. Just know where you’re going, the ground you have to cover.
This is an example of a simple, focused support letter:
Dear family and friends,
An opportunity has come up for me to travel to Romania and Moldova this May, and I am just so thrilled.
Romania is one of our most established fields. About 15 Romanians and North Americans constitute the staff, and they work among at-risk children, youth who live on the streets and poor families. Our staff members help with school expenses, advocate for the children at their schools, and provide tutoring, meals and medical care at the community center. They also do training for families and schools about behavioral development and issues affecting children. Our Romania field does a great job of encouraging artistic expression and has been an inspiration to our global community.
Moldova is our newest community, actually started by our Romania field just this January. Staff members are currently volunteering with organizations that serve among at-risk children as they discern the precise direction they’ll go.
We here in the sending and support office are meant to do a field visit about once a year. We have better understanding of our work when we get to see it in person. Our hearts are more invested. Because of funding and scheduling conflicts, I haven’t visited a field since I visited Brazil two and a half years ago. That trip greatly encouraged me in the work I do.
I think I have felt the lack of field visits. I feel distant from my work.
Realistically, my support account is not in a healthy place to consider traveling in two months. But I need to go. I’m not using the term “need” lightly. I need to be reminded of the purpose of this work. I want to meet some of the kids who shape my co-workers’ lives. I need to be rejuvenated and inspired.
And I need your help.
I invite you to help make this trip possible for me. I’m asking you to consider giving a one-time gift specifically for this trip. I probably need about $3,000 (sorry, I don’t have exact figures), and any contribution you make will truly help.
And, as always, I thank you for your love and support.
Much love to you.
This letter is very focused and straightforward. Even as a relatively short letter, it accomplishes many things:
- Lets supporters know about an exciting opportunity in her life (in the introductory paragraph)
- Tells about the work her organization does in the specific fields she hopes to visit
- Vulnerably shares about her needs, both for encouragement and financial support
- Invites her supporters to help (straightforwardly)
- Expresses gratitude
Brainstorm to find the points you need to communicate
Whether you’re searching for topics or need to hone in on the points you need to make, brainstorming or mind-mapping can help get you started. Once you know the points you need to cover, you can organize them into an outline. And then your letter is much easier to write.
As an outline, the letter above might look like this:
I. Intro: I have this opportunity to travel
II. Introduce fields and work they do
III. Why I need to go
a. Staff requirement
b. Need the encouragement
IV. What I need in order to go and how you can help
V. Closing, with gratitude
When you’re thinking about your letter, if you can name those points that you know you need to cover, you can easily figure out what to say. And that can help your letter to be focused and to the point.
What are your methods for finding focus in your letters?