Need to write a donation request letter for your cause or organization’s next fundraising campaign? Don’t know where to start, or how to organize your letter? Help is here!
For many people, writing donation request letters is the most stressful part of the fundraising process. You need to raise funds, you need to request donations, you know your cause, and you know what you’re asking for and why, but when you sit down with pen in hand – or hand on keyboard – you just don’t know where to start. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. And better still, help has arrived!
Writing a donation letter is not difficult. It’s just a matter of getting your thoughts organized. Here is an example of what an ideal donation letter might look like:
Dear [Recipient Name],
Every year [organization name] works towards [your cause]. This fight is made possible by the generous support of people like you.
In this past year alone, [organization name] has [describe a goal achieved, share a story of your organization’s success, or the story of a person or cause that benefited from your organization’s work]. This year, we hope to [share a goal for the coming year].
We’re asking you, today, to take a stand against/for [your cause] by making a simple donation of [$ amount]. Your [$ amount] will [what will this amount cover? Feed a child? Secure an acre of rainforest? Purchase school or sports supplies?]. To send your generous donation, please [payment specifics – payment type, mailing address, etc].
[Organization name] thanks you for your time and generosity.
[Your Name, printed]
Not every donation letter will look exactly like this, but this 3-paragraph style is a good way to organize your thoughts. Let’s break it down by paragraph to help you better understand how to write an effective donation letter.
Paragraph 1 – State the name and cause of your organization, and the reason for your letter.
Some people think you should save the asking till the end, or that you could put people off by making the donation request clear right away. On the contrary! It is always best to make the purpose of your letter apparent right from the start.
Make sure the wording of your cause is heartfelt and genuine, and a donation request will certainly not put anyone off.
It is respectful and considerate to be upfront about the purpose of your correspondence. If someone takes the time to read through your letter, and only finds the donation request in the last paragraph, they might feel misled.
Paragraph 2 – Your appeal.
Now it’s time to make the case for your organization. You’ve stated your cause and your purpose. Now tell the person why they should support you. Share a success story, or goal that has been reached. You can also share the personal story of a person or group that you’ve helped.
Just remember not to go overboard. The entire contents of the letter should fit onto one page. If you have several stories you’d like to share, consider compiling a newsletter that will be sent in addition to your donation letter, in which case, the letter can reference the newsletter and invite the recipient to read more.
Paragraph 3 – The specifics
This is another reason why you made the donation request clear in the first paragraph. Now you need to discuss specifics, and that’s much easier when the person knows it’s coming. They’ve been prepared, and many have already decided to donate, they just need to know how.
If you are providing a set donation amount, be sure to keep it within range of past donations for previous donors (read more about keeping track of donor history). For example, if someone gave $20 last year, you wouldn’t ask for $100 this year. Instead, you might offer a range of $20 – $50 for this year’s donation request. And of course, let donors know what the money they donate will be used for.
Above all, don’t forget to thank the recipient of your letter. Even if they don’t donate, it’s important to thank them and let them know you appreciate their time.