No matter what your organization’s goals may be, finding ways to secure funding is imperative to the success of your campaign. One of the most effective methods of securing funds is by writing a donation letter to potential donors. Nevertheless, when performing a Google search, finding the best methods of formulating a great donation letter can be a bit tricky.
What is a Donation Letter?
A donation letter is a typed or hand-written letter sent to potential donors in order to raise funds for your organization or cause. These letters typically appeal to the emotions of potential donors by explaining how achieving the goals of your organization can help the world as well as why receiving financial donations is imperative to reaching those goals. Although you can write and send donation letters all-year round, experts assert that donation letters are most effective when you send them towards the end of the year, as many individuals and organizations are determining their pre-tax season finances. Either way, a good donation letter is short and concise, while also including specifics regarding the importance of the mission as well as the requested donation.
Types of Donation Letters
There are various types of donation letters. The type of donation letter you write should depend on the type of donor you are contacting. The types of donation letters are as follows:
Church Building Fund Requests– This type of donation letter is specifically for churches who are seeking donations from existing members and supporters. The purpose of these letters is to remind the donor of the benefits the church has and will continue to provide as well as how important it is to secure funding to continue to offer these services in the future.
- Charity Auction Item Requests– Rather than simply requesting funds, charity auction item request letters are to help convince potential owners to donate items to charity auctions.
- Fundraising Event Donations– This purpose of type of donation letter is to request either donations to help organize a charity event or that the person attends the event to donate or sends a donation to contribute to the event.
- Sponsorship Request Letters– Sponsorship requests are made for the purpose of securing funding for events and other initiatives. In this case, the organization typically offers the potential donors something in exchange for their sponsorship. For instance, many organizations offer to give the sponsors things such as VIP access, free advertising at the event as well as on event-related materials, or even having the event named after them, so the community is aware of which individual or entities sponsored the event.
- Mission Trip Funding Requests– This is similar to a sponsorship letter. However, mission trip funding requests are created to fund particular missions and excursions, rather than events.
- Missionary Support– This type of donation letter requests support for particular missionaries who are actively working towards a goal that stands to help a particular community as well as the world at large.
Individual Vs. Corporate Appeals
In addition to knowing your purpose, before you write a donation letter, you must also consider who you will be writing to. Drafting a letter for an individual requires a different technique then when drafting a letter for a corporation or group of people:
- Individual Appeals– Individual appeals are for individual donors and typically request small one-time or recurring monetary donations. These appeals typically appeal to the sentimentality of the individual by telling them more about the cause and how even small donations can make a major difference.
- Corporate Appeals– These appeals are for businesses of all sizes. Unlike individual donation appeals, these appeals are typically written to request things such as sponsorship, in-kind donations (such as meals, raffle prizes, employee volunteers, or even the use of a venue for a charity event), to collect employee gift-matches, and more. These types of appeals typically focus on how the donor company stands to benefit. For instance, by providing T-shirts for the volunteers for the event, a company can receive a high level of promotion by including their name and logo on every shirt.
How to Write an Effective Donation Letter
Without proper guidance, writing a donation letter can be tricky. Given the fact that donation letters help to secure funding, finding the perfect way to word them can literally make or break the proposal. If you need help formulating your donation letter, be sure to include the following:
- Header– Your header should include the name of your non-profit as well as your logo, if applicable.
- Non-Profit Contact Info– Make sure you include the physical address of your organization, the company’s email address, phone number, and any social media pages.
- Date– Decide on what date your plan to mail or email your donation letter(s).
- Donor Salutation– The first impression can be a lasting one. Your greeting sets the tone for your entire donation letter. Decide whether you want to be more formal or personable. You can either stick to the tone of your organization or personalize these greetings based on the brand/ style of the donors.
- Acknowledgment of Relationship to Donor/ Organization– To add a personalized touch, take the time to remind the donor of the nature of the relationship and/or how their past donations have helped your organization. For instance, when writing to an individual, you could include something along the lines of, “last year, with the help of you and an array of other awesome donors, we were able to achieve…”. On the other hand, when writing to businesses, you may write something along the lines of, “your company has become a recognized staple at our fundraisers and with your help, we will continue to achieve our organizational goals”.
- The Story of Your Non-Profit– As a general rule, you will want to steer clear of salesy language as it can often be off-putting in this context. However, the section involving the story of your non-profit is your one chance to sell your company. This is the area to help you connect to the donors on an emotional level. In a donation letter, your story should include: the need (explain why the donations are needed), the solution (give a vivid description of what the success of your campaign will entail), and the hero (to help your donors realize how important they are to you, be sure to make your donors the hero in the story every time!).
- Call-to-Action– Creating a call to action is one of the most important elements of your donation letter as this is the section in which you literally ask for the sale. One of the more effective ways of doing this is by including a call-to-action with time restraints. For instance, in the case of individual donors, you may want to include some special item or benefit for the first respondents (i.e. the first 50 donors will receive V.I.P. access to all events in June). On the other hand, when dealing with corporate donors, you may include something along the lines of, “first 5 companies to donate will have their company names on all merchandise distributed at the event”. In doing so, you have not only given your potential donors a number of reasons why they should donate but you have also added one that will encourage them to do so quickly.
More Tips for Creating a Great Donation Letter
After learning the specifics of what a great donation letter entails, here are a few tips and tricks to help you make your donation letter as effective as possible:
- Keep it Short– Despite the fact that you need to include the aforementioned sections, you should still make your donation as short as possible. In this age, you should assume that most people are too busy to read a massive document just to learn about and support your organization. Keep it as succinct as possible to avoid losing your audience.
- Don’t Forget the Self-Addressed Envelope– Self-Addressed envelopes add an extra special touch when you are attempting to raise funds. Including this envelope will be yet another way to encourage them to write a check and mail it back ASAP.
- Include a Legitimate Hand-Written Signature (If Possible)– While printing your signature is fine, you really should try to include a legitimately hand-written signature to make it seem much more personal. Especially when dealing with donors from the past and/or donors who have the capacity to donate large amounts of funds to your cause, you will want to take the time to hand write your signature. This will help them to feel like you have reached out to them personally, rather than inserting their name into a template letter that you have sent to all potential donors.
- Don’t Forget the P.S.- Including a P.S. is a great way to reiterate your call-to-action. Experts assert that most people read the P.S. second, after reading the salutation.
Creating a donation letter does not have to be a nightmare. For more help creating the perfect campaign for your charity, contact the experts at NewFire today. No matter if your organization needs coaching, resources, or anything in between, NewFire Giving is a great company to help you set your charity campaign trail ablaze.