It’s almost the end of the year and come 2019, different nonprofit organizations would start developing their fundraising and communications strategies and plans. While organizations want to focus on going digital in a majority of their fundraising and marketing strategy, a well-written, compelling donation letter is still an undisputed essential part of a nonprofit’s marketing mix. Some things just never change, and with good reason.
Elements of a Great Donation Letter
In an era of social media and internet, promotional schemes fundraising letters can’t be forgotten since it gives you a great chance to tell potential donors your nonprofit story. Fundraising is about stories and having the skills to present the impact your organization is making, in writing, can generate continued support for your mission and goals. You don’t have to have a sob story for it to be compelling and sincere. You just have to start off with the following elements:
- Overline: An overline is what you use to draw your readers in. Much like a headline, an overline should evoke a feeling of excitement and a sense of urgency.
- Introduction: The goal of your letter should be introduced as well as your organization in a way that would keep the reader interested in your pitch. Let’s face it, donors, especially corporate leaders, get these kinds of letters all the time and they would not be able to make time to scan through all of them so if you want yours to be read, make your introduction as interesting as possible.
- Body: This is probably the most important section of your letter as it includes your story and why you’re asking for the donor’s support. The story is the one that gives the letter an emotional value leading to asking which then tells the one reading it, how they can help and why you want their help. Just make sure to clearly present the need and give the reader a general idea of how the donation would benefit the organization.
- Closing: Start this by thanking your potential donors in advance. It’s a general rule of thumb in business letters and a display of gratitude even before something is done shows trust in your reader and implies your expectation of their donation without being obvious. The closing should also have a reminder of how important their support would be.
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Steps to Create an Excellent Donation Letter
Following these steps, create a donor letter that potential donors would be interested and one that would inspire them to give or support the organization:
- Personalize: Don’t trump your chances by starting your letter with “dear supporter.” The name of the person is very important. It gives the impression that the letter was really meant for them, not just as a potential supporter but someone you’ve given some thought to and someone you took the time to identify. There are actually several donor letters available which you can edit, customize and print on the internet, or you can choose to use the ones available on this website.
- Grab the reader’s attention: Start by writing a statement that will get the attention of your reader enough to make them keep reading such as a question, a statement, or a specific person’s story. It can also be a situation which your organization has helped resolve. Telling a story doesn’t have to be melodramatic for it to be believable and compelling. Creating a scene is one of the most effective ways of getting your message across, letting the reader further see why your cause is important.
- Update the reader: According to research, letting donors know about what their last donation was used on and how it has helped is a must, before trying to get another donation from them because the key to getting what could be a long-term support is updating donors and making them feel that they are an important part of your mission.
- Focus on a specific program or initiative: Organizations having multiple projects may have to indicate everything they do in one letter, but that’s not the way to do it. Getting everything in one paper is going to be overwhelming for a reader, especially one who is as busy as a businessman. Focus instead on a project you’re currently working on and tie in a story to make it convincing or real for the potential donor.
Tips in Designing a Donation Letter
If you have been in the nonprofit sector for quite some time, you probably realize that getting a donation from private organizations, an individual or a corporation can be a really tricky task. There would be many charities out there with a mission and a cause that’s just probably as worthy of all the support it can get like yours. Here are some tips you can use in order to end up with a convincing and persuasive letter:
- Make It Conversational. This isn’t a letter for the literary books and while you want to send one free of grammatical errors, stuffy, formal language can make it monotonous and uninteresting. When it comes to writing a request for a donation, make sure to put a conversational tone by putting something personal at the start of your message and an actual signature (not printed) from one of the leaders in your organization. This is your best chance at communicating with potential donors on a personal level, which is what most organizations need when submitting a donation letter.
- Consider Design. Never underestimate the power of an effective design. It may just be a document to you but letters that leave an impact on potential donors should be engaging from the moment it hits the mailboxes or reaches the offices of those you sent it to. It might be a good idea to have it in a visually appealing envelope which features a teaser copy, the company logo or a compelling image if it’s the budget won’t limit getting them customized and printed. The letter itself should have a letterhead featuring the organization’s logo, in colored print.
- Make It About Your Donor Too: One key part of building a good relationship with grant-giving organizations and getting their confidence that what they give is indeed going to a worthy cause is making sure you include how their donation is going to be used. Don’t make it about your organization, because it shouldn’t be. Be careful on a language you use in addressing them.
Types of Donation Letters
You have many options when it comes to donation requests. As long as you write the best donation letter suited for the purpose of your organization project’s current needs, you will be able to get the funds from the right donors. To be better guided, here are the most common donation letters you can use:
- General Donation Request Letter: This is the most standard option for fundraisers and charity causes and best used for asking donations from people within close proximity to your family, friends and the community. It also addresses questions the recipient may have or any clarifications he or she needs such as how they can help or donate.
- Sponsorship Donation Letter: Best used for fundraising drives or activities such as marathon, cycling or concert for a cause, this type of letter is written specifically to ask friends, family members and others to donate a lump sum or part with a certain amount for every hour or mile an individual or artist reaches or from what the activity had collected in figures.
- Corporate Donation Letter: Corporate donation requests in writing are commonly used by organizations to ask corporations, businesses, and private organizations or establishments to contribute. This is what you write when you’re trying to reach larger funds and they can be sent to local businesses, grant-giving firms and corporate foundations.
Donation Letter Sizes
As with other forms of business letters or business documents, donation letters can be printed in any paper size although they usually follow standard A4 US paper size or 8.5 x 11″ format.
Donation Letter FAQs
How do you ask a company to sponsor your program, project or give a donation?
You convince them. The best way of convincing them, especially if you’re targeting corporations, is telling your story, or the story of the lives you have helped or affected, in a compelling way. What is your organization all about? What makes your cause something that people should pay attention to?
How much can you donate to charity without a receipt?
There is no specific figure limit or an amount you’re allowed to give without a receipt although you need some sort of proof for any kind of charitable contribution given. Donations of more than $250 require a written acknowledgment from the charity.
Raising funds would never be easy to any organization or individual whether it’s for a life event, project or a charity cause, anything worthy of support still needs a well-written letter which would convince potential donors to part with hard-earned money.