How to write letters asking for individual donations

Written by karen s. johnson
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How to write letters asking for individual donations
Letters requesting individual donations can be very effective with the correct strategy. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

All charitable organisations dream of receiving that large corporate donation, but according to the Money For Good research project, 75 per cent of donations made to charities in the United States are individual donations from households earning £52,000 or more annually. But many charities count on receiving smaller donations. Before asking for donations, develop a strategy that might appeal to your recipients based on their possible motivators for donating.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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    How to Write Letters Asking for Individual Donations

  1. 1

    Organise your thoughts by creating an outline. You will want to pay close attention to your opening, or introduction, as this should grab your reader. Come up with two or three main points for your letter, such as your goal, what the donation will do or a personal story or quote. Your conclusion is your "call to action" -- the donation request. Finally, be sure to give clear instructions on how your reader can donate.

    How to write letters asking for individual donations
    Using an outline can clarify your donation letter-writing strategy. ( Images)
  2. 2

    Write a personal story. You can profile a recipient of your charity, whether it is a person or an animal, using it in your introduction and then weaving it throughout the body of the letter; or, start with it as one of the first points in your letter. For example, your introduction might state "Our goal at Acme Prosthetics is to give a fully functioning replacement limb to every child who has lost a limb to landmines, regardless of where they live or political circumstances." Then the first paragraph of your letter might detail how a young girl in Zimbabwe with one leg has to care for her baby sister 10 hours daily while her mother operates the family's food stand in the city.

    How to write letters asking for individual donations
    Personal stories can serve as motivators to giving. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)
  3. 3

    State clearly the donation's impact. Will a £16 donation really help? If this is all your donors can afford, you want to let them know it will still have an impact. Give examples of varying amounts; if £325 will help 25 children, then say so. If 80 per cent of the donation covers the cost of the prosthetic, and the other 20 per cent covers travel costs for staff and doctors, then disclose that, as well. If your charity is local to the addressee, then emphasise that the money stays in the community, where the donor can directly witness the effect or feel good about helping a "neighbour" or community. These considerations are particularly important to smaller donors.

    How to write letters asking for individual donations
    Let your potential donor know the impact of her contribution amount. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)
  4. 4

    Point out the benefits to the donor. This could be the tax deduction, particularly for the larger or investment donors; the local or community connection; the continuation of program services that the donor might enjoy, such as public broadcasting, local community theatre or evening community education programs; or reducing stray animal population.

    How to write letters asking for individual donations
    Pointing to specific benefits makes the donation tangible for your donor. (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)
  5. 5

    Make the donation process effortless. Include a postage-paid envelope; offer a monthly bank draft or a credit card charge; provide an online link for donations; and even recognise that the donor likely receives numerous requests and point out that you ask only once a year, in consideration of his time.

    How to write letters asking for individual donations
    Make the donation process as effortless as possible by providing payment options. (Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Tips and warnings

  • If you are sending the donation letter via e-mail, include a link that goes directly to a donation site that accepts credit and debit cards, or electronic bank transfers. Offer instructions for the link that includes copying and pasting it in the computer browser as opposed to just clicking on the link.
  • Keep your word! If you promise that you will send only one solicitation per year, then do so. If you promise to send the donor a photo or follow-up letter about a recipient of her donation, then send it in as timely a manner as possible.

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