8 Types of Donation Request Letters (The Complete Guide with Examples)

8 Types of Donation Request Letters (The Complete Guide with Examples)

donation request letter

Donation request letters are one of the essential tools in a fundraiser’s arsenal. These letters can be sent to individuals and businesses. Depending on the reason for the request, the feel of these letters can either be formal or informal.

We have written an article on writing fundraising letters in the past. This article explains different types of donation request letters and gives examples of how organizations have used them.

Here are the 8 types of donation request letters you’ll learn about in this blog –

  1. Individual donation
  2. Corporate donation
  3. Sponsorship
  4. Online donation
  5. In-kind donation
  6. Church donation
  7. Volunteer
  8. Peer-to-peer

But before we dive into the types, let us have a look at what is a donation request letter and why they’re so important.

What is a Donation Request Letter?

donation request letter

When writing a donation request letter, remember you are writing to a real person. The formality of the letter will depend on who you are addressing. The purpose of these letters is to inform donors about your organization, why their gifts are needed, and how they can give.

Many request letters will be mailed. The cost of printing and mail can be costly, though, so there are other options. Emails and social media donation appeals have grown in popularity. Even if you choose to send your request by email, you should still include as much information as possible.

Why are Donation Request Letters Important for Nonprofits?

donation request letter

Fundraising request letters are used for different reasons. If your organization requests donations or sponsorships from a corporation, a formal request letter is often required. It is also a way to show you are a serious organization capable of handling a large donation.

Sending out request letters to businesses and individuals is a way to give specific details on your campaign and organization. It is an excellent way to show how their donations impact the nonprofit.

Different Types of Donation Request Letters

Donation request letters come in many forms. Whether these letters are formal or informal depends on the type of request you are making and the population you are contacting. Below are some of the more common types of request letters with examples to get you started. Some of these requests will look like regular letters and others will seem like more of a brochure. The design and text for each letter should be targeted specifically to your campaign and donor base.

1. Individual donation

As a nonprofit fundraiser, you will quickly become comfortable writing individual donation request letters. This type of letter is the most common type of appeal letter sent to individuals or families during major campaigns.

The most popular of these campaigns tend to be at the end of the year when people are in a giving mood. Giving Tuesday is on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and is an international day of giving. This day of giving is a great theme to use for your end-of-year individual donation request letter.

Whether you are sending out a letter for Giving Tuesday or another campaign, a few practices can increase the letters’ response rate.

1.1 Make the letter personal when possible

Individuals who receive these requests will often have a history with your organization and have donated or volunteered in the past. Keep track of this information in your donor management system, and this knowledge can help you personalize the letter whenever possible. With Donorbox, you can add internal notes about donors to the donor record to better keep track. This will better your response.

1.2 Include details about the campaign

People give to successful programs. If you can include a success story or facts that show how your organization has already made a difference, more individuals will want to be part of it. Personal success stories that include a picture will have an even greater impact.

2. Corporate donation

As your organization develops its community partnerships, you will have the opportunity to send more corporate donation request letters. These donation request letters for businesses can be sent during your annual campaigns, event sponsorships or to give corporate partners a unique marketing opportunity.

Encourage matching gifts

One of the ways a corporation and your organization can benefit is with a matching gift campaign. Your organization can send corporate request letters to donate in exchange for free marketing to all the organization’s donors.

After working with the corporation to finalize the details of their donation, you can create a matching campaign based on the amount raised from these corporations. Send out individual donation request letters and online campaign appeals to promote the matching gift campaign and the organizations.

To increase donor engagement in these campaigns, use a goal meter on the campaign webpage and social media to share how close donors are to meeting the corporation’s matching amount. Corporate donors will see how their original donation has encouraged more people to give. For example, check this below matching gift campaign wherein donations up to $100,000 got matched through a generous grant. Try getting one like this from your community businesses or corporations, which will make your fundraising efforts a success.

Get Started With Donorbox

3. Sponsorship

Sponsorship request letters are generally sent to businesses and foundations before an organization’s major event. These appeals will promote the event and explain the organization’s needs. An event is an excellent opportunity to introduce your organization to new businesses.

In your sponsorship request letters, be sure to include free tickets in exchange for their gift. This will give you the opportunity to connect with them in person. Create customized sponsorships for each business if possible. Give them the chance to promote their organization and share their gifts with their customer base online.

4. Online donation

Online donation appeals can be sent through email or any social media application. These appeals will be different from other request letters for obvious reasons. People spend 5.59 seconds reading online content, so your online appeals will have to be short and to the point. The demographic of online donors is also different from those who regularly respond to formal request letters.

4.1 Send more than one online donation request

Mailed donation requests are sent out once because of printing and mailing costs. Online fundraising appeals can be sent on a weekly or even daily basis. It is best to send out at least one email and at least two to three social media posts a week during the end-of-year or other large campaigns. These posts will be shorter and should link to a website page that includes more information on your campaign goals and the programs affected.

4.2 Include links to important information

Online donors are younger and are used to researching the organizations they support. If you are sending out online donation requests, you will want to include links and ways to find more information about your organization’s programs and financial data.

4.3 Add more ways to give

Online donors are also willing to give in different ways. Donors who have shown support in the past can be solicited to give weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. Online donation platforms, like Donorbox, offer donors the opportunity to manage recurring donations to nonprofits. Donors can set up a recurring gift in less than two minutes and control their donation amounts and intervals. You should check out Muso‘s donation page for inspiration.

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5. In-kind donation

In-kind donations can be as helpful to a nonprofit as a financial one if the items are in need. Pet adoption centers or daycares are examples of nonprofits that can use in-kind donations. The problem is when the in-kind donations given are not what is needed. This is where a donation request letter comes in handy. You have got to be specific about what in-kind gifts you’re in need of.

5.1 Link the letters to your website where items are listed

If you send out request letters and online emails, and social media posts with a list of items, you will have a better chance of receiving your organization’s needs. Add a list of needed items to your website. Once that is live, you can link all emails and social media posts and add that link to your mailed request letters.

5.2 Acknowledge these gifts online

People who donate love to be thanked. Sending an acknowledgment is necessary, but have you thought of adding in-kind donors to your donor wall or promoting their gifts on your Facebook page? By publicly acknowledging these gifts, you will let donors know you are grateful and let others know how they can support your organization too.

6. Church donation

Churches continue to need financial support from their members. With fewer members attending services every week, there is a greater need to look for other ways to collect donations. Church donation request letters can be sent to connect with lost membership and ask for needed funds.

Donorbox is helping thousands of churches across the globe collect tithes and offerings online through the simplest yet most effective fundraising solution. Check out this quick 1-minute video to know more –

6.1 Keep it warm

The feel of these request letters should be different than those sent from other nonprofits. While most fundraising request letters are formal, a solicitation letter from your church needs to have a warmer tone.

6.2 Explain why

Churches do not often have events, but if you are holding a fundraising event, now is the perfect time to send out a donation request letter. This event brings lost members back to the fold, so in your letter, explain the fun they may miss out on if they do not attend. In your letter, you can give details on what to expect at the event, why the event is being held, and where exactly their donation will go.

6.3 Introduce text-to-give

Instead of asking for donations every Sunday, churches are trying new ways to reach out to their congregation for help. A great way to reach younger members is with text giving. Churches can include a campaign ID and text number in their program, mention it during service or send a campaign letter with an explanation on how text-to-give works. Donors can send a text to the given number and receive a link to your mobile-friendly donation page.

After donors give once this way, it is easy to repeat their gifts. The Donorbox text-to-give system is automated. You only have to remind your members that repeating the donation requires no inputting details or filling out additional forms. They only need to send a quick keyword to the same number. Here’s how our repeat donation looks.

7. Volunteer

Along with donations, many nonprofits need volunteers to keep their organizations running. A great way to remind your donors about this need is with a volunteer request letter. Use this letter as a way to reintroduce your organization to lost donors and explain how they can continue to help.

7.1 What will your volunteers do?

Nonprofits often have various ways people can volunteer. In your letter, you can explain a few of your biggest needs. If you have an upcoming event, you can send out a letter explaining the different ways people can volunteer before or at the event.

7.2 Explain their impact

Let supporters know how their volunteer work will help the organization. Does it keep an event running, do they have a direct impact on a specific population? Just like their money, people do not like wasting time. Make sure your volunteers understand how important they are to the organization.

8. Peer-to-peer

Technology has changed the ways nonprofits solicit. One of those ways is with social media. Peer-to-Peer fundraising has given donors ways to play a larger role in fundraising for their favorite nonprofits.

Asking your donors to take part in peer-to-peer campaigning can excite and confuse them. It is best to explain how this type of fundraising works and give them the tools to be successful. One of these tools is a donation letter template to send to their friends and family – so they are able to personalize their letter and easily send it to their prospective donors.

Pro tip: Let your donors make the campaign their own whenever possible. Sending them a template that includes your campaign’s branding will help donors raise more funds. Here’s an example –

Sample donation request letter

Along with the template, send fundraisers pictures and success stories to keep their community encouraged. Let them know how they impact the campaign by linking a goal meter to any messages you send out to your fundraisers. Give donors access to this link to use in their communication with friends and family.

Donorbox’s peer-to-peer fundraising feature has great storytelling potential and helps your fundraisers get started within minutes. The fundraising pages will have great add-ons like a goal meter, a recurring donation form, social media sharing buttons, dedicated space for the fundraiser’s photo and a background image, and more. Do check the feature out here.

When Should You Use Donation Request Letters?

Donation letter

Donation request letters are a nonprofit’s primary tool for successful fundraising. The reasons you send these letters will depend on the type of campaign and the type of donors.

Nonprofits will create campaigns for different reasons, but the most popular reasons are upcoming events or giving holidays like Christmas and Ramadan. During these campaigns, a request letter is often sent in the mail or by email. These letters can introduce the organization, explain the campaign, and detail how their donations can help.

Segment your Donors

When reaching out to donors and asking for gifts, it is best to segment your donors. Using your donor management system, you can segment donors by the amounts they donate, campaigns they support, and more. Donorbox makes it a breeze for you!

After you segment donors, you can send personalized request letters to your donors with a higher return rate.

How to Write an Effective Donation Request Letter

How to write a donation letter

Now that you know the types of letters to send and when, you can start writing your next donation request letter. Here are a few tips on ways to make your letters more effective.

1. Keep it professional

When sending out request letters by mail, you will want to keep it as professional as possible. The easiest way to keep this appearance is with an official letterhead. Your organization will have this letterhead for other official correspondence, so be sure to use the same letterhead.

Another way to keep the donation request letter professional is by including the date and donors’ full name and address. These additions are common to formal business letters and will make a difference in solicitation letters you send to businesses.

Finally, one of the easiest ways to get a donation is by showing your organization is tax-deductible. Include your organization’s EIN with this letter. Businesses and many individuals will need this information for tax purposes and do further research on your organization.

2. Clearly communicate the campaign goal

How to write a donation letter

When sending out these request letters, you will want to explain your campaign and the goal donors can help you achieve. By giving as many specifics as you can, your donors will understand the reason for their gifts.

3. Use success stories and facts

In addition to details about the campaign, you will want to show how their donations have made a difference in the past. Include a personal success story from one of your organization’s beneficiaries. This story will give a face to the organization.

Another way to show success is with a few facts and figures. Some donors want a personal story, but others want to see proof that their donations are reaching more people. If your organization has been around for a while or affects large numbers of people, a few facts and figures may be quite compelling.

4. Personalize the letter

After segmenting your donors, you have the information to write a more personalized letter that focuses on the campaigns they find interesting.

When writing about these campaigns, it is crucial you avoid jargon and technical language. People want to know more about the work you do, but using too much technical jargon can get confusing and turn donors away.

5. Include a call to action

The most important part of your request letter is the actual request. This is, unfortunately, an area that can be forgotten. When sending out these letters, always remember to include a call to action. Give donors a reason for your letter and let them know what they can do to help.

It is also essential to make this step as easy as possible. If you are sending a letter with a request for a donation, include an addressed prepaid envelope. Also include other ways to give, like online donation links and information on recurring donations and peer-to-peer fundraising opportunities.

6. Sign the letter and include a personal note

How to write a donation letter

When sending a request, you will get a better response if your letter includes an actual signature from the Board President or Executive Director. If your donor list is too large, add the signature to your Microsoft tools and have your Executive sign the letters to all major donors.

Pro Tip: If you are sending a request letter online, you can use electronic signature tools to get a sign from the Board President or Executive Director.

A personalized note can help your request letter stand out, especially during year-end campaigns when donors receive mail from several different organizations.

7. Send an acknowledgment

Donors expect an acknowledgment within 48 hours after donating. If they donate online, they will receive a receipt right away, but a mailed acknowledgment makes their end-of-year tax preparation easier.

Sample Donation Request Letters for Nonprofits

Donations letter example

1. Adult & Child Therapy Services (ACTS)

ACTS is a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit that provides speech and occupational therapy to men, women, and children in their community. Their request letter is an online donation request letter with every element for success one can think of. It was written to appeal to donors who feel connected with the cause of children’s health. The picture and story are a great way to personalize and draw donors’ attention. Here’s what we love –

  1. An image and inspiring story of the beneficiary
  2. Numbers and descriptions to indicate the future impact
  3. Donor levels, can also be referred to as donation levels
  4. Their online donation link
  5. An alternative way to make a donation

Donations letter example

2. Little Angels Centre for Exceptional Care

Angel Songs is an annual event held by Little Angels Centre for Exceptional Care to raise funds for taking care of the kids and young adults living in their home. This letter is a great example of a sponsorship request letter sent to potential corporate sponsors. Here’s what we absolutely love about this request letter –

  1. The mention of last year’s impact
  2. A clear indication of this year’s fundraising goal
  3. Details of the gala event
  4. Opportunities and benefits for the corporate sponsor (enclosed with the letter)
  5. Tax-deductibility information

Donations letter example

3. Health Education Centre

The Health Education Centre hires and trains health professionals to serve the marginalized communities in Connecticut. This letter can be a classic example of an in-kind donation request letter as well as that for corporate sponsorship. If you’re planning for a silent auction to raise funds for your cause, this should be helpful.

Here’s what caught our attention –

  1. The mission of the organization explained right at the beginning
  2. Number of guests expected to pique interest in sponsors
  3. What gift items are expected from donors/sponsors
  4. Benefits clearly explained along with tax-deductibility

Donations letter example

Final Thoughts

Donation letter

Donors get tired of getting the same type of request letter for each campaign. Successful nonprofits make each solicitation letter unique to the campaign and the donor. With donor management systems, you can keep track of how donors react to your request letters and which campaigns get the best response.

If you have more questions about different types of request letters and fundraising campaigns, visit our blog. If you are looking for an affordable online fundraising system for your nonprofit, learn more about Donorbox and our features.

Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.

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