TnT Example Fundraising letters

I don't want to pick on anyone in particular, but these letters were posted on the internet so the authors evidently wanted them read. In none of these letters do the TnT runners state that they will have their expenses paid for through the donations they receive. The letters also repeat the misinformation that at least 75% of their donation will go to LLS program services.

I've not included the entire letter in these cases. They normally spend some time discussing Leukemia, the work of the LLS, and telling about their "Honored Teammate" a leukemia patient. The links are there so feel free to check out the letters in their entirety. These are just a small sample of what you can find out there if you look. Given the information I have presented on the actual amount of money that goes to LLS, do you think these letters represent full disclosure? When a person stands to receive a sizable financial benefit when they ask you for money, don't you think they should disclose that up front?


"For a long time, I've wanted to run a marathon. On October 12, 2003, I'm finally going to do it. I'm going to run the Chicago Marathon. Chicago is a race that draws world-class marathoners from many countries. World records have been broken there. It also draws tens of thousands of runners like me.

A marathon can't be done casually. Running 26.2 miles requires careful preparation and hard work. So I've joined Team In Training, a program run by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). Team In Training is a group of energetic people who are committed to improving their health, training for endurance events, supporting each other, and raising money for medical research. I'm very glad to be part of this team. I have made a commitment to train for five months (view my training progress), to finish this marathon, and to raise $3800 for LLS. I know I can do it with the help of my coach, teammates, family and friends.

So with Lise in mind, I'm asking you to give to LLS. Your donation is tax-deductible. At least 75% will be spent on medical research and patient services, which is why the magazine Money ranked LLS as one of the top ten large charities. I gratefully welcome donations of any size. Please help other patients survive and thrive as Lise has.

David Wasserman"

Two letters from the next runner.

December 17, 2001

Dear Friends and Family,

Six months ago, I ran a 5K, about the longest distance I had ever run. Less than five months from now, I will be crossing the finish line of the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee after having run 26.2 miles in the course of about five hours.

I am a member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s "Team in Training" program. With their help, I have undertaken the most daunting challenge of my life. With my help, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will raise over $80 million this year. They will use this money to make great progress toward curing leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s disease, while improving the quality of life of patients and their families. Over the past 25 years, research funded by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has raised the survival rate of childhood leukemia from 5% to 80%!

Mahatma Gandhi once said, "We must be the change we wish to see in the world." In that spirit, I have set a goal of raising $5,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, with the knowledge that I will be part of the effort that one day produces a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s disease. I invite you to join me in this effort by making a 100% tax-deductible contribution to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Over 75% of your contribution will directly support research as well as care for patients like Samuel. ANY amount would be appreciated, but please consider contributing $1-5 for every mile I run. Please send your contribution to the address below by January 15. (However, you can still contribute after this date!)

On April 27, you and I will prove to the world that average individuals, working together and dedicated to a cause, can help to change lives for the better. My battle, my race, will end that day; but for some it will just be beginning.

Warmest wishes, and my sincere appreciation,

Kevin Markham

February 26, 2002

Dear Friend,

I hope that this letter finds you well. I am writing to let you know how everything is progressing with "Team in Training," the marathon training and fundraising program run by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society which I am participating in. Hopefully you received the letter that I sent you in January, but in case you did not I have enclosed a copy.

It is important to realize that research funded by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is one of the main reasons that Samuel will live. Leukemia remains the number one killing disease of children. Please join me in my effort to assist the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and Hodgkin’s disease. Your contributions are 100% tax-deductible and will help me to reach my goal of raising $5,000. ANY amount would be appreciated!

Please send your contribution to the address below by March 15. Feel free to contribute with a check (made out to "Leukemia & Lymphoma Society"), cash, money order, or credit card (send your name, phone number, address, Visa or MasterCard number, and expiration date).

Thank you so much for your support!

Best wishes,

Kevin Markham

Here is a letter for a TnT Ironman participant. Note that Erin says she has been a TnT staff volunteer, yet she still states "Seventy-five percent of all the money we raise goes directly to Leukemia and other blood related diseases research."

Dear Friends,

I’m sorry to inform you that a very dangerous bug has bitten me; one that to date has no known cure, affects so many people and one that I’m hoping you can lend a hand with.

I have acquired a slot through Team in Training to complete the 21st Annual Ironman Canada, on August 24, 2003!

Since June 2001, I’ve been involved with Team In Training both as a participant and as a staff volunteer. This is my forth season with Team In Training but the first as an Ironteam participant. I never wished to do an Ironman but then I dreamt about crossing the finish line. I woke up, called my mum and knew I had to start the journey. Team In Training is just one fundraising arm of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; they provide the athletes with professional coaching, training routines, and all the reasons in the world to go out, to remember and to achieve. Team In Training’s Ironteam 2002 sent 50 athletes to Penticton, B.C. who went on to achieve the status of Ironman at Ironman Canada and another 25 were sent to Lake Placid and did it at Ironman USA. They will provide me with 10 months of training, over countless hours of working out (estimated at 102.7 hours in the pool, 205.9 hours on the bike, and 147 hours of running), and all the tools to complete this journey. Really it was/is a dream. In return for all the support, I just have to raise $7,500. Now being the dedicated person that I am, I’d like to raise over $10,000 (I like the zeros!!!). It’s my dream to raise $20,000 and finish of course. Will you help?

Seventy-five percent of all the money we raise goes directly to Leukemia and other blood related diseases research. It is the Team In Training program that helps saves people’s lives. It is the continued research that will allow us to find a cure. Please help me save the next Kathy. We can help find a cure. We need to assist in funding that effort … please help me reach my goal.

Complete your “Hero Application Form” and send it to me!

Erin Kenyon:

Another letter from a California runner who is doing a more local marathon.

Dear Family, Friends, Neighbors, and Colleagues,

Some of you may not have heard from me for some time, while others see me on a daily basis. Well, I’m getting back in touch with you now, and for good reason. Several weeks ago I made two important commitments, 1) to quit smoking, and 2) to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I have already accomplished the former, and will be doing the latter by participating in a fundraising program called "Team in Training" in preparation for running in the California International Marathon in Sacramento on December 2nd, 2001.

Team in Training (TNT) is one of the most successful fundraising programs nationwide. During its 15 year history, the Team in Training program has experienced tremendous growth, owing to the nature of its focus. The TNT program offers any person, regardless of their level of fitness or ability, a three-to-five month comprehensive training program with the guidance of running coaches, training, and a highly energetic environment of fellow trainees. Daily and weekly group runs help make the process fun and safe for everyone. Each run team has specific honorees, with a range of ages and stages of illness. Each TNT participant in the California International Marathon pledges to raise a minimum of $1,800. At least 75% of that money goes directly towards Leukemia research, which is considered to be the best place to start on the road to finding a cure to all kinds of cancer.

Please support me in this effort by sponsoring my first marathon (26.2 miles). I’m asking that you contribute a minimum of $1 per mile ($26.20 for the math-challenged), but hope that many of you will have a larger amount in mind for such an undertaking as this represents.

Sincerely Yours,

Michael David Wilkes
--aspiring marathon runner

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David S. Hays, O.D.,