A carefully crafted letter will give you a better chance of getting the help you're asking for.

Asking for help is never easy, especially if you're asking for help on behalf of someone else. When money or time is a concern for the people you are reaching out to, you may feel that it is inevitable you will get rejected. But as long as your letter is crafted carefully, you'll have a better chance of getting the help you seek. One of the most important things to remember about writing this type of letter is organizing your information in the right order.

Decide what is the best way to address your audience in the letter. Typically "To Whom It May Concern" or a simple "Hello" with no formal name attached is much too impersonal and will turn your reader off. Instead, choose a salutation that makes your reader feel like you took the time to write personally to him. "Dear" is a traditional way of opening your letter that will not make the reader feel like he is one of many you have contacted.

Introduce yourself at the beginning of the letter and ask the reader how she is doing. This personalizes the letter and makes your reader feel like you care about her, thus making it easier for you to be heard when you ask for help farther down in the letter. If you know the reader personally, also include a tidbit about her in the introduction to show that she matters to you and you aren't just writing to ask for help. For example, "Hope you and your family enjoyed that cruise to Hawaii" or "Sorry we didn't get to see you at Christmas" are good ways of connecting to your reader.

Provide background on the person you will be asking help for. Don't ask for the help yet; simply introduce the person in need and include who he is, a brief life story, any roadblocks or impediments that have occurred in his life recently, and any other detailed information that will make your pleas for help seem more urgent and necessary.

Ask for help. Do not put your reader on the spot with wording that is too pointed or will make the reader feel bad if she decides not to help. Instead, use general language that leaves the reader free to make her decision to help out. People are more willing to help if they are not uncomfortably put on the spot. Here is a well-worded example: "If you or anyone you know would like to donate to her cancer fund, please let me know." A badly worded example would be: "I know you have a lot of money, and if you don't donate to her cancer fund, then you must not care about helping people."

Close your letter on a personal or professional note with "Sincerely," "Best Wishes," "Thank You," "Regards," or simply "Best." Follow this closing with your signature.


  • Stay positive in your writing Don't use inflammatory language Connect to your reader with personal information Give your reader the freedom to choose whether or not to help