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Examples of Effective Fundraising Letters


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Small Nonprofit Remakes Its Annual Appeal Letter
TROT in Tucson AZ
Courtesy of TROT (click on image to enlarge)

Therapeutic Riding of Tucson (TROT) rewrote and redesigned its annual appeal recently, leaving behind a more corporate feel for a human interest story, a great testimonial, and a winning photo. TROT is a beloved Tucson, AZ, nonprofit with a budget of less than $1 million. It's too early to know just how well this sweet, one-page letter will do, but TROT is finding that $100 donations are so far "trotting" ahead of $25 ones.

Marcie Fritz-Reichenbacher, the new development director of TROT, said,

"What I hoped to accomplish is to connect with donors on an emotional level by using a child who benefited as an example. Also key is how we helped this specific child. I will want to continue to take this approach in the future and maybe have more than one anecdote in a letter. Lots of photos are key."

You can see a screen shot of the letter above, read the text below, and download a PDF of the letter here and of the donation form here.

Since Morgan started the "TROT Tots" hippotherapy program, she has gained upper body strength and posture, learned many skills, and developed greater independence. She can help dress herself, brush her teeth, brush her hair, and play by herself with her toys. Now we hear all the time, "let me do it!"

Morgan's Mom, Lori

Dear Friend of TROT,

With a generous pledge from Angel Charity for Children for 2012, we are turning a pilot program of hippotherapy with a licensed occupational therapist into a full-time “TROT TOTS Clinic” to reach children ages 18 months to 6 years old during their most critical window of development. Currently, there are several hundred kids in the greater Tucson area who are on waiting lists for pediatric therapy – TROT can address that need for dozens of children through hippotherapy combined with occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech/language therapy. We are confident that we can sustain this program after the first year “boost” from Angel Charity for Children.

As we begin our 38th year at TROT, it is with gratitude to the Tucson community for sustaining the worthwhile work that has helped so many individuals with special needs. Our energy for continuing this work is strong – we are filled with BIG ideas for enhancing our existing therapeutic programs and constantly looking for our “next step” to enrich the lives of people with special needs.

We have BIG plans for the next year – we’re adding a 6-week “Late Spring”semester of themed-based therapeutic riding sessions called “Arizona Adventures.” Each week the riding sessions will include basic riding skills to meet our students’ goals while learning about Arizona’s desert creatures and critters; Native American and Hispanic cultures; and ranch life in the Old West.

Since Fall of 2007, we have reached out to young children at Davis-Monthan AFB who have a parent deployed to come to TROT for a day of cowboy/cowgirl fun “Under Western Skies.” We are developing a further collaboration with Davis-Monthan families who have special needs children. The “D-M Kids Camp” is a 3-day mini-camp (four times a year) with a western theme to address each child’s special needs through therapeutic riding and horserelated activities.

We’re thinking BIG as we look toward TROT’s future. Your generosity has brought us such a great distance since 1974 – will you continue to help our organization serve those with special needs who gain so much from our programs? We are strong because of your support – we are looking to the future with BIG dreams for our riders – your help plays a BIG part in our ability to make a difference in their lives.



Leslie Esselburn
Executive Director

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