Raise more funds with this donation letter template and writing tips
A donation request letter is one of the most effective tools around for raising money and rallying support. Although they’re more formal than other fundraising requests — like an in-person chat or Facebook post — they still pack a punch.
Typically one or two pages long, donation letters allow you to connect with each reader, spell out your fundraising needs, and describe the benefits of donating, all in one nice, neat package. You can send them via direct mail or email, or both. Even better, donors can take their time considering your message and ask. They don’t feel put on the spot, like they might with an in-person or phone request.
That said, trying to write an effective donation request letter can leave even the most experienced fundraisers with writer’s block.
If it feels like there’s too much to communicate, or you’ve struggled to find the right combination of words to entice your donors, you’re not alone!
In this article, we’ll go over what to include in your donation letter and give you a variety of examples, donation letter templates, and three letter-writing best practices.
Essential parts of a donation letter
Every fundraising appeal will sound slightly different, but the building blocks of an effective donation request letter are the same.
Your letter should have the following elements:
- Header: Add the name of your cause or campaign, nonprofit organization, or business at the top of your letter, as well as a good-quality logo image if you have one.
- Contact information: Include your physical address, phone number, email address, and website. (This is how potential donors will ask questions and verify that you’re a legitimate person or group, so triple-check that it’s accurate!)
- Salutation: For general requests, greet your prospective donors with a friendly but professional opening, like “Dear Amanni” or simply “Marcus.” For corporate requests, opt for a formal salutation like “Dear Mr. Weaver.” Use the person’s name whenever possible.
- Appeal: Your fundraising appeal is the bulk of your letter, but it has to be brief. You need to capture your readers’ attention, clarify why you’re reaching out, and build up to your call to action, i.e., the actual donation request. Paint a picture with success stories, compelling facts, testimonials, and more. An image, GIF, or short video could also bring your cause to life.
- Call-to-action (CTA): Once your readers understand what’s at stake, you’ll make your ask. It may be financial support, free services, in-kind donations, or other charitable donations. Ensure your request is specific, clear, and easy to act on. Include instructions on how to take the next step.
- Additional information: Include any relevant campaign perks or info, like a limited-time matching gift offer or other ways to support your cause. Charitable organizations might want to highlight tax benefits, for instance.
- Sign off: Close your donation letter by emphasizing the opportunity to make a difference. Sign your name or the name of someone in your organization to establish a relationship with each new donor. Finally, thank them for taking the time to engage with your cause.
Example donation letter template
Here’s a general donation request letter that pulls in all the elements we covered in the previous section. Copy and edit it based on your needs and start raising money in no time.
Your organization’s name and logo
Organization street, city, ZIP code
Organization phone number
Dear [Potential Donor’s Name],
[Draw the reader in with a short but powerful story, quote, statistic, or other example of why your cause matters. Use details that spark emotion and show the impact a donation will make.]
People like you are the reason we’ve been able to [list your major successes or any projects in the works. If you’re reaching out to a previous donor, explain what you specifically accomplished with their past gifts].
Now, we need your help to [add your call to action. Tell the potential donor exactly how they can contribute and be a hero for your cause].
Can you make [your goal or mission] possible by donating [the specific amount of money, in-kind donations, or services you need]? Your donation will be used to [briefly explain how you’ll use each dollar, donation, or service and why they’re needed].
If you’d like to support [your cause], please send your contribution by [list all the ways they can give, like clicking the donate button, mailing a check, etc.].
Optional: If you can’t give right now but still want to support our cause, please [list alternatives, like sharing your fundraising page or volunteering for the campaign]. With more people aware of our cause, we’ll be one step closer to [restate your mission].
Your support makes a difference. Thank you for helping us get one step closer to [repeat your goal or mission].
[Your typed name]
3 donation letter best practices that really pay off
Fill-in-the-blank templates like the ones above make sure you hit all the important points, but they can run the risk of sounding generic. Whether you start from scratch or build off a template, these letter-writing best practices will help your fundraising appeal stand out from the pack.
1. Personalize the letter for your audience 👀
A personal touch can make a world of difference when it comes to engagement with your fundraising letter. We don’t mean you need to write a unique message for each potential donor and fundraising campaign. However, you do need to research your target audience and change up pieces of your message based on your findings.
For instance, if you’re addressing a past donor, acknowledge their gift last year, last month, or last week. Using pronouns like “you” and “your” will also get them personally invested in your mission.
2. Be direct about your request 📝
Odds are that your prospective donors are being bombarded with donation requests, promotions, and ads every day — which means no one is going to slow down to decipher a vague fundraising request.
Ensure your fundraising needs and your request are both clear and specific. For instance, if you want a local business to cover the costs of food and drink for 100 people at your upcoming event, explain why it’s necessary and provide a cost estimate.
3. Emphasize the specific benefits of donating 🌟
What’s in it for your donors? Many people act like business owners and investors when it comes to giving their money away. They want to know that each dollar is going to be used strategically, turn into something valuable, and produce a return on investment. Of course, this goes double if you’re requesting donations from companies or asking for corporate sponsorships.
Explain the impact of each gift or commitment level in your appeal letter, like this STARability fundraising campaign. Describe both the tangible benefits (funding virtual arts for 25 program beneficiaries) and intangible benefits (earning goodwill in the community) of donating to your fundraising efforts.
After the campaign is over, reflect on your progress. Did you accomplish or provide these benefits? If so, highlight each win in your donation thank-you letters.
The next step 👈
Knowing how to write a donation letter is a must for successful fundraising. The donation letter template we’ve looked at today covers all the bases, so you can focus on getting to know your audience and honing your appeal.
Ready to put your skills to the test? Check out some of our favorite fundraising ideas and start planning your request letters: