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Examples of Effective Fundraising Letters

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Appeal Letter from International Organization Providing Medical Care to Children
Examples of Effective Fundraising Letters
Operation Smile

Many appeal letters contain something...calendars and return address labels are popular items. This appeal caught my eye because of an unusual premium that was not meant for the donor but for the child he might help.

There was a small insert containing 15 stickers obviously meant for a child. The sun, butterfly, star, frog, and toy airplane stickers were bright and cute. There was a message to the lucky child who received life changing surgery: "A new smile. A new day. A new life. I'm so happy for you! From your friend in (donor's state), USA." Then a line for the donor's signature.

At the bottom of the stickers was this message: "Please sign above and return these fun stickers with your gift today. You may also want to write a short personal note on the back. We'll give the stickers to a child who receives a new smile and a new life, thanks to you."

I didn't even need to read the rest, but I include the text of the letter anyway. Note the founder's personal story, the achievements of the charity, and finally the story of one child whose before and after photos are printed within the letter.

Dear _______,

When you look into the face of a child born with a cleft lip or cleft palate, it's impossible to know their pain.

A child like this is mocked and ridiculed. Unable to attend school. Unlikely to have friends. Eating and speaking are difficult. They're condemned to suffering because their parents can't afford the surgery they need. Some will not survive.

My wife Kathy and I faced this tragic reality nearly 30 years ago--on our first trip to the Philippines to provide cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries. Forty children received surgeries--but 260 more were sent away. It broke our hearts to know they'd suffer their entire lives. So we recruited medical friends and colleagues to return with us and help. That's how Operation Smile was born. Since then, we've:

  • Provided more than 160,000 free surgeries to children around the world, and we now have a presence in over 60 countries.
  • Recruited more than 5,000 doctors, nurses and other credentialed medical volunteers who donate their time and talent.
  • Trained thousands of local doctors and nurses in reconstructive surgery techniques and post-operative care.
  • Provided free physical examinations for every child during medical mission screening, and every child that received surgery also receives post-operative care.

An Operation Smile surgery takes as little as 45 minutes and costs as little as $240. In only a few moments, a child's life is transformed! But sadly, most of the 200,000 children worldwide who are born with facial deformities each year can never afford the surgery they need. Our mission is to make sure that someday, every child has the surgery that will change their life forever.

That's why we need your help. Your gift today can save a child from a life of pain--and open up a world of opportunities. Just $40 or even $20 will help provide free surgery for a child like little Ngan from Vietnam.

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