How to Write a Direct Mail Fundraising Letter

letter of appeal from an international organization that provides medical care to children

Many fundraising letters contain something…calendars and return address labels are popular items. this smile operation letter caught my attention because of an unusual bonus that was not intended for the donor but for the child it could help.

There was a small insert containing 15 stickers obviously intended for a child. the sun, butterfly, star, frog and toy airplane stickers were bright and cute. there was a message for the lucky boy who received life-changing surgery: “a new smile. a new day. a new life. so happy for you! from your friend in (donor 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 can also write a short personal note on the back. We will give the stickers to a child” . that he gets a new smile and a new life, thanks to you.”

what a great way to help the donor be the hero!

dear _______,

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

such a child is ridiculed and ridiculed. unable to attend school. unlikely to have friends. eating and talking are difficult. they are doomed to suffer because their parents cannot afford the surgery they need. some will not survive.

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My wife, Kathy, and I faced this tragic reality almost 30 years ago, on our first trip to the Philippines for cleft lip and palate surgery. forty children were operated on, but 260 more were sent. It broke our hearts to know that they would suffer all their lives. so we enlisted medical friends and colleagues to come back and help. This is how operation smile was born. since then, we have:

  • provided more than 160,000 free surgeries to children around the world and we now have a presence in more than 60 countries.
  • enlisted more than 5,000 doctors, nurses, and other credentialed medical volunteers who donate their time and talents.
  • trained thousands of local doctors and nurses in reconstructive surgery techniques and postoperative care.
  • provided free physical exams for each child during the medical mission evaluation and each child who received surgery also receives postoperative care.

A smile surgery operation takes only 45 minutes and costs as little as $240. In just 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 one day, every child has the surgery that will change their lives forever.

That’s why we need your help. Your gift today can save a child from a lifetime of pain and open up a world of opportunity. just $40 or even $20 will help provide free surgery for a child like little ngan from vietnam.

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Ngan’s parents were poor rice farmers struggling to survive. when they saw her cleft lip and her cleft palate for the first time, they thought she was cursed. her neighbors took pity on her. other children were afraid to look at her.

generous friends like you allowed us to give ngan the surgery she needed and save her from embarrassment and rejection. now she has a fabulous smile and a bright future ahead of her. such a transformation seems miraculous! but we cannot rest.

we want to go to more places and help more children. we want to continue training local doctors and nurses to carry out the work and establish more care centers in our partner countries, so that surgeries can continue throughout the year.

We have medical teams that volunteer their time. Now we need your help. any amount of gift will help give a little one like ngan a new smile and a new life.

and for as little as $240, you can help pay for surgery on an expecting child now. that is a changed life, entirely thanks to you.

Thank you in advance for helping us work to change children’s lives one smile at a time.


bill magee, d.d.s., m.d. co-founder and CEO

p.d. I enclose happy stickers for a child who will receive a new smile thanks to you. We give these stickers to kids on our medical missions and they are always delighted to receive them. please sign them and return them with your gift today.

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