Do you find it uncomfortable to ask your church members for donations? It may not be the most natural conversation in the world but without it, your church can find itself in financial difficulties.
To survive, your church needs to be fundraising on an ongoing basis — and that includes writing successful church donation letters.
While online fundraising should be a big part of your plans, you must place church donation letters in your fundraising strategy. Combining the two can help your church raise more funds, increase your congregation, and ensure its survival for years to come.
Effective church donation letters can be daunting to write but with the right approach, it’s not as difficult as you might think. For most churches, you can write donation letters for any requests for support beyond regular tithing.
You can create donation letters for a variety of purposes, including acknowledging donations that have been made, asking for donations, and encouraging church members to set up recurring donations. Sometimes, you may be able to include more than one of these in the same letter.
Your church can use donation letter templates to make things easier but you’ll still want to add details to personalize your letters and engage your supporters. Some of the best practice tips you can use for this include:
Before you make your ask, start things off with a positive story or piece of news about your church. This eases your supporters into the ask and helps maintain a positive connection to your church.
Thanking your donors for their contributions and letting them know how grateful you are for their support is a key element of successful church donation letters. This helps your church members to feel valued and involved in the work your church is doing. Further, this helps you can maintain a strong relationship with your congregation and increase the potential for future donations.
Pro tip: If your church receives a donation of at least $250 and you’re a 501(c)(3) organization, you’re legally required to send an acknowledgment. This acts as proof of the donation and allows the donor to claim a tax deduction on it. However, if you don’t send a written acknowledgment of the donation, the donor may not be able to claim a tax deduction on it — even for generous contributions. Regardless of whether your church receives donations of this amount, it’s good practice to acknowledge donations of any amount to build greater rapport with your congregation.
Tell donors how your church has used contributions and how you’ll do so in the future. Where possible, include stories about your work and the impact it’s having. This can help church members to feel their donations will make a genuine difference in the community and makes it easier to establish an emotional connection.
Check out our post on how nonprofits can tell stories through their content for more tips on using storytelling to drive donations.
If your church has an online donation page, you can include the link in your donation letters. This offers your congregation a quick and easy way to give.
With Donorbox, it’s quick and easy to set up an attractive donation page. In a few clicks, your church members can make a donation. They can also set up recurring donations to make regular contributions to your church.
Your church donation letters can double as email communications too. You can get the most from this if you segment your church members into groups and send them to the most appropriate group(s) for specific donation campaigns.
However, not all members of your congregation will respond to direct mail donation letters, especially younger members of your church. Therefore, sending email donation letters can maximize donations.
Asking your congregation for money too often can lead to “donation fatigue”. Therefore, limiting your church donation letters to a maximum of six letters per year (or one every two months) can avoid this.
If you can create an effective donation letter that is successful in securing more funds for your church, you don’t need to bombard your church members with donation requests.
Not sure where to start when you’re creating church donation letters? Using a template for your church donation letters helps save time and effort.
You’ll likely need to change a few details to personalize them to specific donors. However, you don’t necessarily need to write a new letter from scratch every time you send out a church donation letter.
You can use the tips from the previous section to personalize examples like the ones below.
Here’s an example of a template you can use for church donation letters that thank your supporters for their contributions.
Dear [First name],
[Open with some news about your church]
We have been incredibly blessed to be able to [briefly loop back to the recent work/projects from the previous paragraph] thanks to the generosity of donations like yours.
Your donation has helped us to do more of this vital work in the community, and with your continued support, we can carry on this legacy. [You might talk about specific projects or general expenses, depending on what is most appropriate].
Your contribution will enable us to [talk briefly about your church’s future plans].
You can donate online at [insert link to your church’s donation page] or [include other details for how to donate].
On behalf of [your church], I’d like to reiterate our heartfelt appreciation for your support and thank you once again for your help in making [project details] happen.
Thank you for supporting [church name] and helping us to make a difference!
[Your name – preferably a leader from your church]
Pro tip: If your church receives a contribution of $250 or more, you’re obliged to send a donor acknowledgment and it must contain specific information.
To comply with IRS rules, you will need to include:
Pro tip: If you’re not sure whether your church’s donor acknowledgment letter includes the relevant information, the IRS publication 1771 can confirm your compliance.
Here’s an example of a template for a church event or church project fundraising:
Dear [First name],
[Open with a story focused on your church’s recent successes]
We’re looking forward to our next [event or project details], which will [include a few brief details about it]. With your support, we can make it happen!
Would you help us by giving [suggested amount] to [reiterate goals for the event or project]?
On behalf of your church community at [your church’s name], your support will be highly appreciated.It will help us to [restate goals]. You can give online at [insert link to online donation page] or [include text-to-tithe instructions].
Thanks again for supporting [church name]’s plans.
[Name of a leader in your church]
Pro Tip:- If you want to know more about text-to-tithe/text-to-give, we have an In-depth Guide on Text-to-Give Fundraising.
Here’s an example of a template you can use for church building/repairs fundraising:
Dear [First name],
[Briefly talk about why your building or repair project is important — include details on the impact]
This will be a space for all members to enjoy and with your generous support, we can ensure that it becomes a reality.
With your support, we can [details of your plans]. Would you consider contributing [suggested amount] to help us?
Your contributions can help [church name] reach our minimum goal of [total cost or estimated total cost of repairs].
On behalf of your church community at [your church’s name], I would like to thank you for your support. Your contribution will help [reiterate details of the project].
You can give online at [insert link to your church’s online donation page] or [include other ways to give].
[Name of a leader in your church]
Your church’s donation letters can go far beyond your congregation — local businesses may also be interested in sponsoring your church, especially for events and projects. Depending on your campaign, this may extend to larger or national businesses.
Sometimes, the costs of delivering a project or event will require you to look for additional funds to cover the costs, and donations won’t always be enough.
When you’re deciding which companies to approach for sponsorship, think about their values, business philosophy, and involvement in the community. These can help ensure you secure sponsors that align with your church’s mission and avoid the potential for damage to your church’s reputation.
Pro tip: Use your knowledge of your congregation to decide when it may be appropriate to look for sponsorship and when it might potentially cause offense.
Along with financial support, corporate sponsorship may involve asking for in-kind donations for your church’s events or projects. You can request prizes for raffles or building materials for a building/repairs campaign, for example.
With corporate church donation letters, you can play up the benefits of becoming a sponsor. This may involve publicity, recognition in the community, and improved brand reputation.
Here’s an example of a template you can use for approaching business sponsors:
Dear [Name of lead contact at the potential sponsor],
[Open with some details about your church’s plans and why you need sponsorship]
Our church carries out this work because [explain the need for project and benefits], and we rely on the support and generosity of the community to deliver on our mission.
Would you consider contributing [suggested amount] to help us work toward our mission?
With your support, we can [restate your major goals for the project].
Thank you for your generous support of [church name]’s mission — your contribution is helping us to do more vital work.
[Name of a leader in your church]
Pro tip: Depending on the support you need, it may be more appropriate to request in-kind donations from some businesses. You can adjust your sponsorship approach to reflect this.
Donation letters can be a powerful way to keep your congregation up-to-date with your church’s events and fundraising campaigns. They can play a key role to help drive more donations.
You don’t need to write a brand new letter every time you send out a church donation letter. Once you find a template that works well in securing donations for your church, you can use it as the basis for future campaigns.
Your church donation letters should warm up donors before you request contributions. Featuring stories that engage donors are very useful when writing a successful letter.
Tell your congregation about your donation page so they can donate quickly and easily once they’ve been won over by your donation letter. And if you don’t already have a donation page, you can create one through Donorbox.
Here at Donorbox, our fast and secure online donation platform allows your church to spend time doing God’s work and working toward your mission. We’re supporting churches like yours to collect tithes and offerings and accept donations for mission trips, church building renovations, and anything else your church needs funds for.