From special events to general operating expenses, donations are what keep many organizations afloat, and if you've ever worked in the nonprofit sector, you know just how important crafting the perfect charitable donation request can be to getting the resources you need. Understanding what the requirements for requesting charitable donations are can help ensure that your fundraising efforts are a success. Check out these tips and guidelines for how to write the optimal donation request.
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 those in need
Important 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.
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.
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 up 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.
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.
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 spaces, to purchase new computer equipment, or to help launch an innovative program, for example. 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.
Social Media Campaigns
More and more frequently, charities are taking advantage of the free publicity that comes from social media. You can transform your charity's social platforms into community spaces that feature things like important event reminders, volunteer information, and information about any recent donation initiatives. This virtual space can become a significant access point for you donors to find you.
A nearly immediate way to reach your donors is through text communication, and using programs like text-to-give, you can give your donors quick access to donating directly to your organization through their messaging systems.
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.
- To get started, review these samples of nonprofit fundraising letters and use them as a starting point for creating a collection of templates customized for your organization.
- Whether you're launching a capital campaign, selling tickets to a special event fundraiser, or seeking support for a school, church, or other nonprofit entity, sample donation letters can be very helpful. You can edit and print the templates below. If you need help, use this Guide for Adobe Printables.
What to Include in Donation Solicitations
When asking for a donation via a letter, you and/or your 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 yours 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.
Don't Forget the Donor
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 as well as to cultivate positive relationships with those who provide financial support to your organization. This letter can also serve as a receipt for their tax deductible donation, and so it's doubly important to send it their way.