Best Practices for a Donation Request Letter

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Published December 8, 2022 Reading Time: 11 minutes

Learn everything you need to write donation request letters that help you secure your organization’s much-needed resources.

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Image credit: Photo by Pixabay

Acquiring new donors is about more than just gracefully asking for donations.

You’ll get better results when you build a relationship with your potential donors and show them how their donation makes an impact. That’s how you can develop trust, which is key to getting people to give their hard-earned money to your nonprofit organization.

But as anyone who’s ever tried sending a letter asking for donations can tell you, it requires a bit of finesse. Sometimes, you need a helping hand to point you in the right direction.

So here are 10 best practices that can simplify your path to getting more donors and turning them into loyal supporters of your organization.

 

What Is a Donation Request Letter?

Donation letters are an essential part of any nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. A good donation request letter can help you increase charitable donations for your cause without having to spend as much time and energy on fundraising. Below, we’ll go over what makes a good donation request letter, what you should include in one, and how to write one that will get results.

What Makes a Good Donation Request Letter?

Here’s what makes a good donation letter:

  1. It’s specific: It should clearly say what you want, what the benefits to the donor are, how you’ll use the money, and what you have already accomplished.
  2. It’s ambitious: It should include your vision for the future of your organization and achievements so far made toward that goal.
  3. It’s confident: It should not sound too salesy but rather express confidence in your ability to achieve success with this funding request.

What Should Be Included in a Donation Request Letter?

There are a handful of donation page best practices to take into account. Before you begin writing your donation request letter, it’s crucial to understand the letter’s purpose. Is it to raise funds for a new sports field? Or are you looking for volunteers? Do you need help with administrative tasks or marketing materials for an upcoming event? The answers to these questions will help determine which details you should include in the donation letter and where your audience should focus their attention when reading it.

To ensure that readers want to support your cause, make them feel like there’s a clear benefit for them if they provide funding or other forms of assistance. To do this, think about how donating could benefit your nonprofit as well as others around you—this often involves highlighting how much time and energy goes into running an organization.

You also have room here (in between paragraphs) to add information about your organization, such as:

  • Who exactly are we talking about here?
  • How did you get started?
  • Why does your community need your work?
  • How has your organization grown?

The Key Elements of Any Good Donation Request Letter

The best donation request letters share some of the same key elements.

It’s written from the perspective of someone who cares deeply about the cause, it explains why their organization needs financial help, and it includes some real numbers showing how many people the donations will help. Here are some other key elements to include:

  • An introduction that states who you are, how long you’ve been in operation, and what your organization does
  • A paragraph about the specific fundraising campaign (e.g., how much money you need, why it’s important, etc.)
  • A call-to-action section that has a sense of urgency or a deadline—this is where you ask for the donation of money by using words like “please” and “thank you”
  • A closing statement thanking them for their time and consideration in helping your nonprofit reach its fundraising goal

How to Write a Donation Request Letter

Before you start typing, take a moment and think about who you’re writing to:

  • What do they want and need?
  • How can you use the information you have on their interests and needs to convince them to give money?
  • How can you make it as easy and convenient as possible for them to donate?
  • What language will help persuade them?

Then, consider the format of the letter:

  • Make sure every sentence has a purpose: Take out any extraneous language that doesn’t add to the overall message. You don’t want a potential donor to be bogged down in the details or confused about why they should give money.
  • Make sure your letter is well-written and error-free: Keep the exclamation marks or adjectives to a minimum.
  • Make sure you use a professional tone toward: Keep your language simple and straightforward. You’ll want to avoid flowery language or complex sentence structure, as both can make it difficult for readers to understand what you’re saying.

Fundraising Letter Best Practices

As you work to inspire confidence and gratitude in the reader, include these components in your request letter:

  • A mission statement for your organization (what you want them to know about what you do)
  • An explanation of how much money you need and what you’ll use it for (including dollar amounts)
  • An outline of what your organization’s up-to-date accomplishments
  • Your nonprofit’s annual reports
  • A list of the benefits of donating money or goods to your organization
  • A reference to any history of support from the person or organization to whom you’re writing

Personalize the Letter as Much as Possible

The more personal you make the fundraising letter, the more likely a prospective donor will read it and respond positively. Here are some ways to add a personal touch:

  • Use the person’s name in the salutation and when you make your ask (when appropriate)
  • Acknowledge and thank them for their last gift and mention the specific donation amount (when applicable)
  • Include language and references specific to each segment of your donor list

Remember that the recipient has almost certainly been solicited for donations before—probably many times. Personalization helps your fundraising letters stand out.

Don’t Make Any Assumptions

It’s best not to assume the reader knows anything about your cause or why it’s important to you. So make sure to explain in detail why it matters that they give money to your organization.

Learning how to get donations can be different for each individual nonprofit organization, but in any case, it’s very important to refrain from asking for donations without justification.

Include a Call to Action

A good request letter will include a clear call to action.

This is the part where you ask for donations, volunteers, and other ways of giving back.

In your call to action, be clear about what you want donors to do. Your words should be specific and direct. Also, be sure that you ask for exactly what you need—don’t just assume they’ll know how best to help. Here are some examples:

  • “For more information or to make a charitable donation to these causes”
  • “We’re in need of financial support from individuals who share our vision”
  • “We’re always in need of volunteers at our shelter”

Additionally, consider tailoring your call to action to the type of campaign you’re running. For example:

  • If you’re running a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, you could say, “Create an individual fundraising page to raise money among your community”
  • If you’re running a recurring giving campaign, you could say, “Sign up for an automatic monthly contribution”
  • If you’re running an event, you could say, “Attend our upcoming event to meet the team”

Lastly, make sure your call to action is compelling enough that people feel motivated to donate money or time (or both!).

Express Thanks in Advance

You should also include a thank you message to the donor. With so many creative ways to write a thank you note for donations, this can be a short sentence or as long as you want. 

It’s crucial to express appreciation for their charitable donation and support because you want them to feel good about themselves. For example, with online donation requests, direct donors to a thank you page after they make their donation.

Segment Your Donors

Nonprofits should also segment their donors when writing donation request letters because it can help them raise more money.

Segmenting your donors means dividing them into groups based on details about them (e.g., age, occupation, or amount donated).

By segmenting your donors, you can tailor your messages to the audiences most likely to act on your messages. Simply put, the better you understand your donors, the better able you can communicate with them and raise money from them.

In fact, “studies have shown that as many as 94% of people who discontinued communications with a company did so because of irrelevant promotions or messages.” So make your communications more relevant, personal, and compelling by segmenting them.

Identifying your target audience and segmenting your donors based on a few criteria is the first step. Here are some segments to consider:

  • Donor history: Some people on your list may not have contributed financially before, so craft a letter to a first-time donor differently from one to a recurring donor.
  • Demographics: Learning how to engage different generations of donors is key, so consider your donors’ delivery preferences for communication and how they’ll wish to interact with your campaign.
  • Campaign details: The specific campaign details and goals should be clear since readers will be more attracted to your fundraiser if the goal is specific.
  • Giving history: It’s critical to know how often and how much your donors give, so you can time your appeals and ask for the appropriate donation amount.
  • Preferred communication methods: When you use the right platform, you may optimize an appeal to convert and reach the donor.
  • Method of acquisition: You need to know where each donor came from so you can make relevant appeals later.

Employ Storytelling

When drafting your donation request, storytelling is crucial since compared to statistics and expert quotes, stories are much more powerful and compelling.

So use success stories that appeal to your donors’ emotions in your request letters. Make your donor relate to the characters in the story, and they’ll be more likely to donate to your fundraising effort.

Donation Request Letter Examples

Our sample donation request letters will get you started creating a professional-looking appeal letter that will help you raise money in an effort to meet and exceed your fundraising goal. Plus, these are easy to customize for any type of fundraising campaign. So feel free to modify our donation request letter templates to fit your nonprofit organization.

Individual donation [donation request letter template]

Subject: Help us raise money for [nonprofit mission]!

Dear [donor’s name],

My name is [name] and I’m the [position] of [nonprofit’s name]. At [nonprofit’s name], our mission is to help [nonprofit’s mission] by [steps nonprofit has taken]. [Give a specific example of your impact.]

While we’ve made some outstanding progress, [nonprofit’s name] still has work to do.

We need your support for [new project or event that you’re asking donations for].

Would you consider donating [donation amount, items, or services that you need] to help us achieve our mission?

If you have any questions, I would be happy to provide you with more information about how you can help support our work at [nonprofit’s name].

We greatly appreciate your donation, which will be used to [insert how the donations will be used and the impact that this donation will have].

If you’d like to contribute, you can head right to our donation page here [insert donation page link].

Please join us! Your donation will bring us one step closer to [insert goal]!

Sincerely,

[name]

[nonprofit website]

[email]

Corporate donation [donation request letter template]

Subject: Help us improve [reason for donation request]

Dear [donor’s name],

I’m writing to you on behalf of our organization, [nonprofit’s name]. Our organization is a nonprofit that [why your nonprofit exists or cause you’re fighting for]. We’re dedicated to [why you exist and how much it costs to achieve your goals].

We need your help to achieve our goals in [the community you serve]. Our foundation has also provided other services in addition to [nonprofit’s mission], including:

  • [list a secondary goal or achievement]
  • [list a secondary goal or achievement]
  • [list a secondary goal or achievement]

While we have made some great strides, [nonprofit’s name] still has a lot to accomplish. That’s where you come in.

I’m contacting you today because we need your help. The cost to [what you do and how much it costs]. We’ve had success in fundraising but need corporate donors like you to help us continue our mission of providing [nonprofit’s  mission]. We’re looking for donations ranging from [how much you’re looking for].

We’ll use these donations to continue [what you’ll use the donations for and who you’ll serve].

If you have any questions, I would be happy to provide you with more information about how you can help support our work at [nonprofit’s name].

We greatly appreciate your donation, as it’ll help us to continue to [insert how the donations will be used and the impact that this donation will have].

If you’d like to contribute, please fill out the attached form or give us a call at [nonprofit’s phone number].

Your support will make a difference in the lives of [who you’ll help]. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[name]

[nonprofit website]

[email]

Sponsorship [donation request letter template]

Subject: Help us host [name of event]

Dear [donor’s name],

I’m writing to you on behalf of our organization, [nonprofit’s name]. Our organization is a nonprofit that provides [what you do and who you help]. As you can see on our website (www.nonprofitsname.org), we continually strive to improve our programs and services to better serve [who you help] in our community.

Indeed, we’re currently preparing for an event on [day, date of event] that will serve as a key fundraiser for our organization. We’re hosting a [name of event] to raise money for our cause. This important event will take place at [location of the event], and we hope to have [projected number of participants/attendees] attend.

The purpose of this letter is to request your sponsorship of this upcoming [nonprofit’s name] event. In return for your generous donation, you’ll receive recognition at the event and advertisements on our website. Below is a list of all the additional benefits from sponsoring this event:

  • A tax deduction for your donation
  • A host of promotional opportunities, including newsletter coverage, website banners and links, social media promotion, print advertising, and more
  • A special thank you mention at the event using your company name or logo (if desired)
  • A logo on all printed materials (e.g., tickets, brochures, etc.)
  • A generous amount of free tickets to the after-party following the event

I would be happy to provide you with more information about how you can help support our work at [nonprofit’s name] if you have any questions.

If you wish to sponsor the event, please review the attached form detailing the different sponsorship packages available or give us a call at [nonprofit’s phone number].

Your support will make a difference in the lives of countless [who you help]. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[name]

[nonprofit website]

[email]

In-kind Donation [donation request letter template]

Dear [donor’s name],

My name is [your name], and I’m writing to request an in-kind donation of [whatever you need].

We here at [nonprofit’s name] are committed to [doing whatever it is you do].

As a sign of our appreciation, we’ll gratefully acknowledge you in our newsletter and give you a shoutout on our social media channels, which boast [number of] followers.

I’ll follow up with you next week. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

[name]

[nonprofit website]

[email]

Volunteer [donation request letter template]

Dear [volunteer’s name],

I’m writing to you on behalf of our organization, [nonprofit’s name]. Our nonprofit’s mission is to help [who you help].

We have a vision of helping [who you help and what you do for them]. The only way we can do this is by having a strong network of volunteers and supporters. Your help will be instrumental in changing the lives of many [who you help and the community you serve].

Our cause is very important and meaningful. In the last year, we have provided [number of] hours of volunteer time and raised [how much donations raised]. This would not have been possible without some of our generous donors and volunteers like yourself. That’s why I’m reaching out to you today. By supporting us, you can help provide [insert how the donations will be used and the impact that this donation will have].

If you have any questions, I would be happy to provide you with more information about how you can help support our work at [nonprofit’s name].

You’ll be helping people with your gift and [how the donation will make an impact.

If you wish to get involved, please see the attached form for some of the different ways you can volunteer or give us a call at [nonprofit’s phone number].

Our charitable organization relies on financial support and volunteer hours to provide assistance to [who you help].

Your support will make a difference in the lives of [who you help]. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[name]

[nonprofit website]

[email]

Donation request letter for event [donation request letter template]

Subject: Help us make our organization’s upcoming [event] a success!

Dear [donor’s name],

I’m writing to you on behalf of our organization, [nonprofit’s name]. As you may know, we are a nonprofit organization that strives to [what you do and who you help]. We do this by providing them with [how you help].

Each year, we host a gala to further our cause.

Our event has grown significantly over [years of existence], and we’re excited about surpassing last year’s attendance of [number] guests. We’re also confident that the 2023 event will attract even more attendees due to several new initiatives we plan on implementing, including a wider array of philanthropic groups and entertainment.

If you’d like to contribute, please fill out the attached form or give us a call at [nonprofit’s phone number].

We hope you’ll consider becoming a sponsor for our [event]. Your generous donation will make it possible for us to continue our mission and provide vital resources to [who you help]. Thank you for your time and consideration of this request. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

[name]

[nonprofit website]

[email]

Are You Ready to Write Your Donation Request Letter?

At Classy, we believe a donation request letter is an effective tool for fundraising.

It gives you the opportunity to share your story, explain your cause, and tell people why they should donate. The key elements of any effective donation request letter include personalization, transparency, and plans for donations.

Now that we’ve covered the elements that make up successful donation requests—and even shared some sample donation request letters for inspiration—you’re ready to write an engaging, persuasive donation request letter for your organization that helps persuade donors and exceed your fundraising goals.

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