One of the most effective ways to get people to donate to your nonprofit is by sending them a donation request letter. In this blog post, we’ll define what a donation request is, explain what you should know before you write one, and list what it should include.
What is a donation request?
A donation request is a type of fundraising appeal in which nonprofit organizations ask for financial support from potential donors. Nonprofits send donation requests to motivate donors to give, which makes sending them an important part of an organization’s fundraising strategy. You may also issue a corporate donation request in which you appeal to a company to donate their goods or services to your organization.
What should I know before I make my donation request?
1. Who you’re appealing to
- Make sure you know who you’re reaching out to and address them by name so the appeal feels personal.
- You may want to use donor segmentation to send custom appeals to different audiences based on how likely they are to give a certain amount.
- If the person has made a previous donation, you’ll want to remind them of that and show the impact of that donation.
- If the person is a stranger, you’ll want to introduce your nonprofit and spend a bit more time explaining what you do and how you do it.
2. Who the letter is from
- Who is your organization sending the letter on behalf of? Your CEO? The director of your board? No matter who it is, make sure they sign the letter or that their signature is included in the email.
3. What you’re asking for
- You need to know exactly what you’re asking for–the more specific the ask, the better!
4. What you’re including
- What facts and stories will you share in the appeal?
5. How you’re going to send it
- What kind of appeal are you sending? An email? A letter that will be mailed to the potential donor?
6. Where you’re sending it
- Make sure you have the correct email addresses and mailing addresses for your recipients.
7. When you’re going to send it
- Is this a timely ask? Are you planning to send appeals during the giving season? Pick your send dates out ahead of time so you’re catching your potential donors at the best time.
8. Why you’re reaching out
- Your what should be tied to your why. Make sure you explain how the donation will positively impact your mission and the population you serve.
Remember: Keep in mind that your donor’s time is valuable. You’ve got a lot of ground to cover, but you don’t want to send a multi-page fundraising appeal or lengthy email unless it’s absolutely necessary.
What should I write in my donation letter?
Here’s what we recommend including in your donation request letter:
- A greeting. Open the letter or email by addressing the potential donor by name.
- A reminder of your organization and its mission. You don’t want your donor to wonder about who you are–it’s your job to tell them!
- Stories and images that show impact. What can you include in your appeal that shows–with pictures or via storytelling–how donors are helping you carry out your mission? How are you convincing them that you’ll spend their donation wisely? What change can they make in the world if they give to your organization?
- Language that positions them as the hero. You need to empower the donor with your wording here. Use words like “you” and “your” when showing them what they can accomplish. Remind them often about the specific impact their donation will have.
- A specific and timely ask. The more urgent and compelling the ask, the better. You should be asking for a specific dollar amount or for help reaching a specific fundraising goal. This isn’t the time or place to be vague. Donors want to feel like they’ll be able to create tangible change with their donations. Communicate just how they’ll do that when they give.
- A call to action. If you’re writing a letter, make sure you also mail a reply device and include a link to donate online if they’d prefer to give that way. If you’re sending an email, make sure you include links to your donation page.
- Ways to get in touch. Your potential donor may have questions or feedback. Make sure they know how to get in touch with you or your team.
- Further calls to engagement. Their involvement doesn’t stop at a donation! You may want to include other ways they can engage with and get involved with your nonprofit in the postscript.
Free Donation Letter Request Checklist
The more time you spend crafting a thoughtful and personal donation request letter, the more likely you are to see positive results. It’s never too early to start planning for your end-of-year appeals so start drafting them today. Download our free donation letter request checklist and you’ll be ready to go for the giving season.
Schedule a live demo with our team, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.