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How to Take Up a Collection Letter for Someone That Died

by Jack Burton

A death in a family can provoke a real crisis, especially when the finances are tight. Whether it's the breadwinner, the spouse, or a child, the costs for a funeral and the immediate aftermath are steep. Taking a collection for someone is a gracious way for the community to support a family that has suffered great hurt. Having a formal letter gives an opportunity for all those who read it to participate.

Format the letter in a personal style rather than a business letter.

Introduce yourself in the first paragraph and explain your relationship to the family in need. For example, "I am Fred Smith, Chairman of the Deacons at First Church where the Harris family attends."

Write about the death in the family in the second paragraph . Do not give unnecessary details but provide enough information to give the reader an understanding. For example, "Last Tuesday night, May 17, Steven Harris was tragically killed in an automobile accident. He left behind a wife, Linda, and 3 children."

Share the family's need in the third paragraph. For example, "Steven was looking forward to starting his new job as a warehouse supervisor next week after several months out of work due to cutbacks at his former employer. Unfortunately, the family's funds are extremely low and Steven lost his life insurance along with his job, so that the family is under a tremendous financial strain right now. Linda cannot work because of a disability that prevents her from driving a car. With the unexpected funeral expenses and the lack of income she and the children are in real danger of losing their home."

Give specific instructions in the next paragraph on how the reader can help. If you ask readers to donate money to a specific fund set up at a local bank, provide details. If the money is to go to an organization, share how to address the check or give the money to ensure it will go to the family. Include all important addresses and contact information. If a 501c3 non-profit such as the church is set up to receive and pass along the money then note that, along with any information about the ability to use the donation as a tax deduction.

End the letter with a sincere appreciation of any help, however slight, they can give. Finish with an assurance that if they have any questions about the letter they can contact you directly. Provide the contact information.

Sign the letter in blue ink.

About the Author

Jack Burton started writing professionally in 1980 with articles in "Word from Jerusalem," "ICEJ Daily News" and Tagalong Garden News. He has managed radio stations, TV studios and newspapers, and was the chief fundraiser for Taltree Arboretum. Burton holds a B.S. in broadcasting from John Brown University. He is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Navy/Navy Reserves and the Navy Seabees.

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