How to Write a Donation Request Letter
Donation request letters are handwritten or typed pieces of correspondence written by people who endeavor to raise money for a variety of occasions such as a project, a special event, a charitable cause or some other type of expense.
These requests for financial assistance can be delivered to friends and family, church parishioners, members of the community and even business owners and C-Level executives of major corporations.
Donation letters typically accompany some other method of fundraising, such as a fundraising event, a charity auction or an increasingly popular crowdfunding campaign.
Why are Donation Request Letters Important?
When used appropriately, donation request letters provide a more formal way of asking for donations than simply picking up the phone and calling around to various companies and individuals. They also add an element of significance to your fundraising campaign.
They also provide you with a tangible means of forging a stronger connection with your sponsors or donors and help to strengthen the legitimacy of your fundraising effort.
What Kinds of Donation Request Letters Exist
Now a days, the majority of people who find themselves needing to raise money for one purpose or another immediately turn to crowdfunding sites in order to reach the widest audience possible and hopefully raise enough to finance their cause.
Thanks to the popularity of sites like GoFundMe, many of these individuals end up raising far more money than they originally asked for. This is, of course, largely due to the generosity of their friends and family and sometimes even a few kind-hearted strangers.
But, there are times when even the most well-deserving crowdfunding campaigns fail to raise the money needed and a little extra assistance is needed.
This is where a request for donation later can prove invaluable.
Similar to online campaigns, giving donation letters can be forwarded to friends and family, members of the church congregation, local businesses and other members of the community.
There are a number of different types of donation letters, each designed to facilitate a specific purpose or type of donation campaign.
For example, the types of fundraising or donations letters that you might come across include:
- General donation request letters
- Corporate donation request letters
- Sponsorship request letters
- Invitations to fundraising events
- Online donation request letters
- In-Kind donation request letters
- School donation request letters
- Church donation request letters
The most common of the above-mentioned donation request letters being the general donation request, these are the types of letters you would send if you were soliciting donations from your friends and family members, as well as from members of your community.
Typically, general donation letters will explain in some detail the purpose of the fundraising campaign as well as answer any questions that anyone receiving the letter might have – such has how they can donate and what exactly the funds will be used for.
If you are using a general donation letter in hopes of furthering a crowdfunding campaign, it is best to time the sending of the letter for just after the start of the online campaign since the two work alongside each other and provide donors with multiple ways to donate to your fundraiser.
You might also decide to use general donation request letters to seek funds for things like life events, extraordinary expenses, your favorite charities, post-secondary tuition or anything else that is of relative importance to you.
We will go over How to Write Donation Request Letter in more detail in the next section, but here are a few best practices to keep in mind as you write a standard request for donations.
- Remember to introduce yourself: Even if you plan on sending your donation letter to people who know you well, it is in good practice to take the time to introduce yourself. Give recipients more information about how you are and why you are raising money.
- Be as personal and relatable as possible:If you were to write a regular letter, you wouldn’t download a template and send a generic message -would you? A donation letter is no different. Try to make your letter as personal and relatable as possible. Using small details, like handwriting each letter, can go a long way in the minds of a potential donor.
- Always sign the letter:Adding your signature to the end of a letter might seem insignificant, but if you do end up typing your letter, something as minor as signing your name at the bottom helps to add a personal touch.
- Educate donors about where they money will go:There was a crowdfunding campaign in 2017 that made international headlines because it generated thousands of donors overnight. The creator of the campaign wasn’t raising money for charity, he wasn’t’ even raising money for a noble cause – he was raising money to buy ingredients to make a bowl of potato salad. But, his transparency resonated with donors and in return for his openness, the funds poured in. Tell your donors where their money will go, what it will be used for – they will appreciate and respect your honesty far more than they would if you remained ‘hush hush.’
How to Write a Donation Letter Properly?
If you’ve ever attempted to lead a fundraising campaign than you know just how difficult it can be to ask for (and receive) donations from businesses, organizations and even regular individuals. Everyday worthy charities and people around the world ask for donations and you need to be able to prove to donors why your cause is worthier and more deserving than the next one.
Crowdfunding campaigns are increasing in popularity and have the benefit of being able to ride the social media wave, but what if online fundraising efforts just aren’t your thing? What if you prefer the look and feel of a traditional paper and print letter over the glare of a screen and the impersonal feel of a ‘share now’ button?
In this case, you are going to have to write a strategic and persuasive request for donation letter in order to raise the funds needed for your cause.
- Plan your introduction: Take a minute to consider who the best suited recipients of your request letter might be. It is important to only reach out to those people or companies that you believe are in a good position to want to help – and who will really understand your goals. It might seem like it will further your cause to reach out to as many people as possible, but if you write to people who are either in no position to help, or have no interest in helping your cause you will only end up wasting their time and your own.
- Personalize each introduction: Wherever possible, address your letter to a specific person. Yes, ‘To Whom it May Concern’ is a perfectly acceptable greeting, but it is also extremely generic and does not instil a personal connection between with recipient and your cause. Remember to be courteous and professional, however. You should start your letter in an ‘official manner’ by always using the appropriate pronoun before the surname of your recipient.
- Try to ‘hook’ your reader: Start your letter with something that will grab the attention of the recipient. This might be an anecdote or even a quote that has some sort of relevance to either you or your cause. Endeavor to demonstrate the significance of your cause early on, this enables your recipient to become emotionally invested early on and hopefully encourages them to continue reading.
- Explain the purpose of your request: Be transparent about how the cause you are raising funds for will improve a specific situation or better the lives of others. Your cause needs to be feasible and relevant. Yes, everyone wants to end world hunger, but that might not be the most feasible of goals. Ending hunger in your school district, however, might be a more reasonable goal that members in your local community resonate with more closely.
- Be open about how you feel that the people you are seeking donations from can help: Share with potential donors factual details of where their money will go and how it will be used. While it might makes things easier to specify exactly how much each individual should donate in order to reach specific goals, some fundraising experts believe that when donors are told how much to donate they always donate the lowest option.
- Let potential donors know what might happen if they don’t donate: This is where you need to use a bit of imagery in order to tug at the heartstrings of your donors. Tell them about the consequences of them not donating. Remember to conclude that these outcomes can be avoided with their help.
- Always thank the donor before they donate: Without being overly presumptuous, thank your readers for their time in considering your cause and encourage them to donate.
- Restate why their donation is needed: You’ve taken time and care to lead up to your cause, it is equally important to take time and care to restate why you value the time of the person you’ve written to and why their donation is important. This is your final opportunity to really drive home any reasons why they should feel compelled to give to your cause.
- End your donation request letter with the appropriate salutation: End your letter professionally and with your signature. If you are writing on behalf of an organization, you might choose to include your job title or position or even the name of the organization that you represent so that your reader knows that you have the authority to be collecting money.
If you need examples or samples of donation request letter to help you understand what sets a great donation request letter apart from the rest, a simple online search will come back with hundreds of results.