5 Suggestions in Writing A Support Letter

For many people, raising the money needed for your build/trip is the least exciting part of the mission experience. Let’s be honest, raising $15,000 for a house and a couple thousand dollars for your travel expenses can seem like no easy feat. We cower when it comes to boldly asking others for their financial donations and then shrink in defeat when we don’t see results. We prefer simply starting an online petition and letting the internet do its thing. We don’t have to experience rejection or face what we believe to be people’s poor opinions on our endeavors.

Where online tools are great, and the internet can be one of THE best places to appeal to the masses, we CANNOT ignore the importance of the personal ask. It is a crucial part in raising the financial, relational, and spiritual support that you need. Making an appeal to an individual connects that person in a VERY personal way to what it is you are doing. Distance can be a factor, but the fine art of letter writing and personal emails can bridge the gap.

Most support letters tend to be boring and unengaging. If you want your letter to be effective, it needs to be exciting and engaging. Here are 5 ways to improve your support letter.

1) Be brief and to the point

If your support letter begins with, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, then proceeds into memories of when you were 4-years-old, you might want to consider editing it down a bit. It may be tempting to share everything that's going on in your life with your recipient. However, if it's going to take them 30 minutes to read, they probably won't read it right away (if ever).

You want to grab your recipient's attention right away, and you don't want to bore them. We suggest keeping your letter to 1 page in length. Answering the following questions will help you keep your letter brief and to the point:

• What mission trip are you going on?

• What will you be doing while you're there?

• How can your recipient participate (usually financial, relational, & spiritual support)?

• How will their participation impact you and the people you plan to serve?

2) Get personal

Although we're using the word "recipient", you should definitely NOT use this term. Phrases like "Dear recipient" and even "Dear friends and family" are impersonal and difficult for people to connect with. If people feel like they're just one of a hundred people that are receiving the letter, they'll be less likely to support you. They'll be tempted to think, "If I don't support them, I'm sure someone else will.”

Instead, include your recipient's name in the letter. Personalized letters are more effective because they strongly encourage the recipient to respond, since you're addressing them specifically. It'll take a little more work on your part to personalize each letter (it's not as easy as just printing 30 copies of the same letter), but the results will be worth the extra effort.

3) Make it easy to respond and give

If your recipient has to jump through a bunch of hoops to support you, they'll be less likely to participate. Do they have to write a check? Boo. Do they have to find a stamp to mail back a "Promise to Pray" card? Boo.

Making it easy for your recipient to respond means taking the guesswork and legwork out of the process. Can your recipient donate to you online? Great! Give them click-by-click instructions on how to do that (no guesswork!). Are you putting together a team to pray for the trip? Awesome! Give them some specific areas your team will need prayer (no legwork!).

4) Make it digital

In some cases, the biggest thing your support letter will do is direct the recipient to your online support page. Having an online page is 10x better than just having a letter. It could be an online fundraising site, Facebook group, or even a blog that you start. No matter where it is on the Internet, an online page is a place where you can truly engage with your friends and family during the support-raising process.

Support letters tend to do pretty well in raising financial support. However, traditional letters are lousy at raising prayer and relational support. An online page dedicated to your mission trip is a better way to rally community and prayer from your friends and family.

5) Make it your own

Copy and paste might work with some projects, but we implore you, don’t so that here! There are a million sample support letters that can be found online. Feel free to peruse these examples and glean from what they say, but make sure the letter you write is your own.

  • Why do YOU feel this trip is worth yours and their investment?

  • What impact will this trip make on both you and the people you are going to serve

  • How will the recipients participation financially/spiritually add to the overall success of your endeavor?

Create your letter to be specific, interesting, and concise. Don't be afraid to make your letter different from any other support letter you've seen before. Make it your own

There's no magical support letter that ensures you'll raise all the money that you need. However, being intentional about writing a great support letter that your friends and family will actually read is a great step.

Most importantly, remember that Jesus isn't worried about raising enough money for your mission trip. And if He's not worried, you shouldn't worry either.

Jeremy Dyck