When you run a charity or organization based on a cause, you rely on donations to help keep things going. One way to do this is to create a Donation Request Letter and send it to local businesses, organizations, and individuals.
What is a Donation Letter
Donation letters are documents that are created asking for donations towards a cause. They allow you to outline the needs of your cause and explain what the donations will be used to benefit the cause. These can be sent out at any time during the year, but tend to work better when sent around the holiday season when people tend to feel more charitable. Donation letters can be used by schools, churches, and nonprofit organizations.
Key Elements in a Donation Letter
Every donation letter will be unique to the cause it is being created for. However, there are three key elements that should be included when creating one.
Your letter should begin with an emotional story that explains the mission of your organization or project. Talk about the accomplishments of the organization, and how it has had a positive impact on others in the community. You are basically speaking about a problem and how you are working to solve it.
How Donors Can Help
Your next section should detail how potential donors can help you solve the issue mentioned in the first paragraph. Be as specific as possible and be sure to include examples of what impact the donations will have.
Information and Details
Your last paragraph should include details regarding how to make a donation and ways to contact the organization. You should have a way for potential donors to be able to ask questions or for additional information about the organization.
You can download one of our free templates or samples of Donation Letters to get a better idea of what they should look like.
How to make your donation letter stand out
Thousands of organizations send out donation letters every year. So, how do you make your appeal stand out from the rest?
Appeals to Individuals vs. Businesses
When writing a donation letter, there are differences between your individual audience and business audience.
Individual appeals are those that you send out to individual donors. They tend to be personalized and will usually ask for a recurring or one-time donation.
Corporate donation letters are sent to your local businesses, national organizations, and international organizations, both small and large. While corporate appeals are similar to your individual appeals, there is a difference regarding what you are asking for, such as sponsorship and in-kind requests. One example would be if you are hosting a party to thank volunteers. You could reach out to a local deli or restaurant and ask them to donate food towards the cause. A corporate appeal will also highlight how their help can benefit their organization, such as bringing them more business.
Writing Your Donation Letter
As mentioned earlier, every donation letter will differ depending on the organization and the campaign they are running. However, there is an overall format that all donation letters should follow.
- Header – this is where you will have the name of your organization and any branded logo.
- Contact details – this is where you write the physical address of the organization and any contact details; phone number, email address, website, and people.
- Date – next is the date that you have set to mail your letters or send emails.
- Salutation – this is where you greet the donor using their preferred title and name. This can be done formally or informally depending on the familiarity you have with the donor.
- Acknowledgment – in this section, you will be acknowledging the relationship of the donor. For example “You’ve been a frequent donor through the years and we are grateful for your help in the past.”
- Story – your next section is for the story behind your nonprofit organization. This helps to connect the donor with the cause in a more emotional way.
There is a specific format that you should use when writing your story.
- Need/Issue – this should explain the issue that your organization is trying to address. You can use examples of how the issue affects individuals.
- Solution – the next part of your story should outline what your intended result is for success.
- Hero – this should outline how the donor is the hero in this story, explaining how their donation will help.
- Call-to-Action – after your story, you should include a call-to-action in your letter. This should detail what you want specifically from the donors.
- Closing – the last part of your letter should be a thank you and a signature. You should make it more personal by signing as an individual of the organization rather than the organization itself.
Sending Donation Letters
When you send your donation letters is also important for success. The things that you need to consider are:
- Amount of letters to send – this will depend on how long you run your donation campaign. A starting point would be to send 3 different letters over a 30-day period.
- How often the letters should be sent – most will send the first letter just before the campaign begins, a follow-up letter mid-way through the campaign, and a third letter one week before the campaign ends.
- How to send – how you distribute your donation appeals is also important. This can be done by post, emails, and social media.
- Leave the jargon out of your letter. You may understand it but your donor may not and it can just make the letter confusing to them. Keep things simple and clear and be conversational.
- It’s a good idea to have a way in which you can track your data. This will help you improve upon your future donation letters.
Does all of the money donated go to the cause?
Typically there is a small percentage kept aside for administration costs, around 4%.
Are there rules for nonprofit organizations to follow when asking for donations?
Just about every state in the US has its own rules that require a nonprofit organization to register with that state’s government before they can fundraise. They must also register with the IRS.
What is the difference between a charity and a non-profit organization?
charity is exempt from paying income tax where non-profit is not.