After sampling the last 100 emails we have received asking for financial help, at least 80 percent of them had one or more errors in them. We are always shocked that a person asking for assistance to pay their bills does not even take the time to proofread their request. There are examples of the issues below, as well as suggestions on how to send a proper request for aid.
When you send a request that is poorly written, why would any charity or government agency want to help you? The sender shows a complete lack of professionalism, which indicates that you are not willing to do the work, or take the time, to even write a concise, coherent email. It shows a lack of education, consideration, and thoughtfulness.
If someone is asking for financial aid but they can’t write a somewhat coherent message, why would an agency think the person will ever be able to become self-sufficient. The message does not need to be perfect, but it can’t be sloppy.
We recently examined the last 100 requests we have received. Anywhere from 70 to 80% had one very obvious error. In fact, we estimate that the average request had 4 or more errors. While it can be challenging to get a precise number of errors and track this data, that we are comfortable in stating that 80% number. We have even put a few examples of what we receive below.
The types of errors are wide ranging. Some of the common themes we see are below, but there are many others.
- People abbreviate words and say “plz” instead of please or “u” instead of you.
- There are dozens of examples of one or more words that are misspelled.
- There is a complete lack of capitalization, with many requests saying “i”.
- Some people do not even have a salutation or sign the email with their name.
- Others send a request for help from a mobile phone.
Now just imagine you are a charity deciding whether to provide money to a client for a car repair or maybe an energy bill. If the applicant sends a completely unprofessional email, with typos and abbreviations or lack of punctuation, why would the charity (which has limited resources) ever take the person seriously?
More than likely the organization would ask themselves why they would ever provide financial help to someone who can’t even take the time to run a basic spell check of their email? Or if the applicant can’t even type properly or send a clear, error proof email, then what chance would that person have to getting a job or higher income?
Since every single charity (and even government agency) has limited resources, priority for any financial support may very well be given to those 40% of people who show they are serious about their request and who show some ability to better themselves. The 80% would be lower down the priority list. And sending a poorly worded email does not reflect someone being serious.
Examples of emails with errors
Here are some of the ~80 or so we have reviewed as well as a description of the error.
- “need an apartment and deposits.living with friend.” – This has no space after the period, no capital letters, and the word deposits is plural.
- “i need help paying my rent for September husband on ssdi/works partime had veicle repairs to pay for cant make my rent because of repairs” – Correct words not capitalized, words spelled incorrectly, one continuous sentence.
- “facing eviction need help paying we have 6 kids 1 income.” – It does not even say what they need help paying, no commas or periods, no capital letters, etc.
Those are just 3 examples, all of which have more than one error. We have many other emails that are even worse then those if you can believe it. Why would any organization ever want to assist someone who writes non-sense such as that when there are so many more deserving people who take the time and effort to do things correctly.
How to send a proper email requesting assistance
There are several things to do. Always remember this is not some game requesting financial assistance…it is not some twitter or Facebook post. Take your request very seriously, and don’t fall into the 80% of people who don’t. But time and thought into the request.
First and foremost, never send some quickly worded email from a smart phone. Use a computer which allows for proper review, formatting, viewing the context on a proper screen size, etc. If you do not have a computer, go to a library, friends house, hotel, or many other sites that have them for free.
- Run a spell check.
- Ensure you have a formal greeting and sign the email.
- Do not ramble on with personal details on some long backstory. Say clearly what you need and how you will use the support to better yourself and exit your hardship status.
- Stress what you are doing to improve your situation, such as starting a new higher paying job, taking classes, attending budgeting courses, and other activities.
- Be considerate and show gratitude in the message.
- If English is not your primary language, then ask a strong English speaker/write for help compiling an email.
- Ask someone to proofread it for you.
You really have the ability to standout from those 80% or so of people who are careless. Agencies want people to be professional and concise. They do not want to assist the same people month in and out (and really can’t do that anyway). So stress what you will be doing to end your financial crisis.