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Requirements for Charities Requesting Donations

Cheryl Cirelli
Donate word with a heart

There are charities requesting donations for various areas of need. From special events to general operating expenses, donations are what keep many organizations afloat. Understanding the requirements for requesting charitable donations can help ensure fundraising success.

Types of Donation Requests

Each year, charities and other nonprofit organizations make numerous donation requests. Requests can range from small monetary amounts to large sums of money. Some donation requests may be for:

  • An item to be used at a special event
  • Money to help purchase new office equipment
  • Funding for a new program
  • Pledge for ongoing support
  • Donations of clothing or food to help the needy

Requirements for Charities Requesting Donations

When a charity requests a donation, there is specific information required to be submitted along with the request. The charity must be an approved 501(c)3 organization and have a federal tax identification number as well. If the group you are working with doesn't have official nonprofit status, the 501(c)(3) application process will need to be complete before you start soliciting donations.

Ways to Request Charitable Donations

A request for a donation may be sent to individuals or businesses. Requests should target those in the organization's area that have an interest in the charity's cause. Donation requests can be made annually or several times a year. Each organization has donation requests that are unique to their cause and specific needs.

Request for help
  • Letters: Many requests for donations are done in writing, via a letter. Letters can be used to solicit individual or business donations, and can be sent by regular mail, email or hand-delivery.
  • In-person meetings: If there is a personal connection to a potential donor, a person-to-person visit can help secure the donation rather than a letter. In this case, the executive director of the charity and/or board members will typically set an appointment to meet with prospective donors. It is advisable to prepare a donation request letter to leave behind at the end of the meeting, or to mail as a follow-up.
  • Phone-a-thon: Some organizations prefer to set up a phone-a-thon, where callers ask those who have donated in the past to once again donate. This type of campaign solicits pledges and ensures donor retention. Follow-up letters should be sent to donors, along with donation receipts.
  • Grants: Some charities request donations from foundations or other grant-making entities. These requests are usually for large amounts of money via a grant proposal. Grants can be written to fund educational programs, to build or renovate new office space, to purchase new computer equipment, or to help launch an innovative program. Each grant request is specific to the organization requesting it and is evaluated according to various factors. Not every charity that submits a grant application will receive funding so organizations should not rely solely on grant funding for its survival.

Sample 501(c)(3) Donation Letters

To simplify your fundraising efforts, it's a good idea to set up a few donation letter templates, with a few different options that can be easily customized for ways your organization solicits donations.

What to Include in Donation Solicitations

When asking for a donation via a letter, the charity should be sure that the following is included in the letter:

  • Name and address of the organization - can be part of the letterhead
  • Donations are tax deductible
  • The manner in which a donation receipt will be provided
  • What the request is for (i.e. money, auction item, food for a drive, etc.)
  • How it will benefit the organization
  • A contact person's name and phone number
  • Signature of a board member or the organization's director

Donation Request Tips

Since endless charities send out donation request letters, try to make your letter stand out from the rest. Unfortunately, many of these letters get tossed and are never read. There are several things to do to make sure that your letter does not end up in the trash:

  • Make the letter personal and compelling. For example, add a personal story about how a donation has helped a specific person.
  • Include a small token of appreciation in the letter. This can be something simple, like a bookmark or magnet with the organization's logo.
  • Enclose a brochure or literature about your organization.
  • Include a return envelope.

Donor Appreciation

After receiving a donation, it is important to thank those who have donated to your cause. Sending donation thank-you letters or hand-written thank-you notes is essential for letting donors know that their gift was appreciated and to cultivate positive relationships with those who provide financial support to your organization. The letter can also serve as a receipt for their tax deductible donation.

Requirements for Charities Requesting Donations