Hollywood hints for writing a fundraising letter

So, you’d much rather be watching a movie than writing a fundraising letter, right? Not so fast with the popcorn because sustaining urban mission long-term is going to require funds. But who says you can’t do both. Let’s craft a persuasive ask using handy hints stolen direct from Hollywood…

An image of Matt Britton Matt Britton
6th June 2024 3 minute read
A photo of the hollywood sign

Start your movie with a bang!

A good movie needs to hook you in the first few minutes otherwise you’re scrolling for another film, right? It’s the same with our fundraising. Create a compelling opener and people will be hooked. Go after your reader’s heart with a gripping story. A paragraph or two about the things you’re seeing. Lives transformed. Estates changing. Build on what you believe could happen with the extra funds.

Who’s the hero of your movie?

Batman or Barbie, Wonder Woman or Wolverine, every story needs a hero. And that’s where you come in, right? WRONG. Whilst you might be the person on the ground, the hero of your letter is the reader! You cannot do what you do without their support. So, give credit where credit is due, use the word “you” more than “we” or “us.” For example, “Thanks to YOUR help we were able to take the youth-group to their first Christian festival…” Make them feel like the star of the story and they’re more likely to feature in future stories too.

What’s the movie all about?

The trailers pitch us all the best bits. The fun and games. The action sequence. The highlights! What’s the heart of what you’re pitching? A new initiative, a mission trip, a youth weekend away, a special project, wages for a new post- what are you asking money for? People are motivated to give to specifics rather than general funds. Don’t forget to tell the reader why this new initiative is so exciting and so needed. Pitch us the exciting bits!

What’s the movie budget?

Pirates of the Caribbean cost over £400 million to make. You’re pretty sure the bill for roof for the sports hall won’t cost that. But how much will it take? Be clear. “It will take X amount to fix the sports hall roof so we can offer Basketball Outreach to those ‘not in education, employment, or training’ on our estate.” If a major donor has pledged a large gift, why not offer a match-fund campaign, “we already have x amount pledged, can you help us find the missing X amount?” Create some urgency. Include dates and make sure you’re clear on the need they’re meeting.

How does the movie end?

The guy gets the girl. The villain is jailed. The treasure is found. Every good movie ties up the loose ends. And so should your fundraising letter. What do people do with all these storylines you’ve given them? You’ve hooked them with a strong opening. You’ve introduced your characters and the stories. You’ve illustrated the need. You’ve told them you cannot do this without their support. They’re ready to give. But what now? How? Enclose a regular giving form. Send them a link to the Crowdfunder (other online funding sites also available) Ask to meet up. Whatever it is – make sure the reader is certain they know how to give money whilst they’re still feeling inspired. 

Now with your five Hollywood Hints to crafting a fundraising letter, go create your script. Write a happy ending for your estate. Role the credits.

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