Even in the digital age, a donation letter is still one of the most direct and effective ways to raise money for your cause.
That’s because donation letters are such a flexible strategy – whether they’re direct mail appeals or email messages, tailored to a specific campaign or event, or asking for more general support. You can’t really go wrong with a well-written, concise appeal for donations.
We’ve written before about how to create the perfect donation page, the actual place on your website where you’ll accept online donations. But how do you promote it to potential donors? Or, if you’re mailing physical messages, how do you let supporters know they can find you online or send a check? Reach out with a letter.
Nonprofit fundraising letters are a fantastic way to drum up support and awareness for your cause. And thanks to the plethora of powerful resources available to organizations like yours, you can make the most of this fundraising opportunity while making the most of the time and money put into your own mission.
However, you have to make sure your donation letter stands out. Following a foolproof template is the best way to make sure you’re hitting all the essentials. Then, you can customize and personalize your letter to really catch your donors’ attention.
Let’s walk through common examples of donation letters, starting with a template of the basic format to follow:
- The basic donation letter format
- Donation request letters
- Letters for fundraising events
- Letters for online fundraising
- Letters for pledge campaigns
- Letters for peer-to-peer campaigns
- Letters for sponsorship requests
- Letters for new nonprofits
- Letters for schools
- Letters for churches
Use the list above to jump to a particular letter template, or just follow along with us from the top. We’ll wrap up with a few of our pro tips to make your donation letters as impactful as possible. Let’s get started!
Donation Letter Templates: 10 Common Examples
♦ The Basic Donation Letter Format
Let’s start with the basics. Here’s a template of the essential elements that any effective donation letter will include:
- Salutation. Greet your potential donor with a friendly opening. Personalize it with their name whenever possible. You might need to do this manually, or you can use nonprofit software and marketing tools to automatically populate names into your letters and emails.
- Explanation of your mission. If your recipient isn’t very familiar with your organization, a concise explanation of your mission and purpose is important. This is the “hook,” the first place to encourage readers to emotionally connect with your work. If your recipients have engaged with your nonprofit before (whether as current or lapsed donors, volunteers, etc.), this is also the place to acknowledge that.
- Your project, event, or needs. Next, briefly explain what you’re fundraising for. Why are you sending the letter? It might be a specific project or event that needs funding, or you might be conducting a fundraising campaign to raise support for your organization more generally. Whatever the reason, be exact and transparent about it.
- Compelling details. In the middle section, add some compelling details to help illustrate your needs. Describe your project or event and the impact it will have on your community. Provide examples of your past work, or share a story about a particular constituent or campaign. This is where you should focus on engaging your reader emotionally to motivate them to take action.
- A specific request. Next, clearly state your specific request. Your reader won’t feel as compelled to donate if your request is too generic. Ask for a specific amount, but make it clear that any support will be appreciated. If possible, tie your request to a specific impact it will have. For example: “Your donation of $25 will help provide a backpack full of school supplies for a local student in need.”
- A call-to-action. Wrap up your letter with the concrete next steps that you want the reader to take. This will depend on the exact purpose of the letter. For an email, include a direct link to your donation page. For a physical letter, provide clear instructions for readers to send you a check or find your online donation page.
The main idea is to focus your letter around one key goal. Depending on your exact goal for the letter, you may choose to promote your main donation page, recurring gift options, event registration page, or volunteer sign-up form. Never overwhelm your reader with multiple or vague requests.
You just need to ensure you’ve got easy-to-use online fundraising tools set up to direct your readers to. Create a Snowball account to cover your bases with a free online donation page.
By sticking to the essentials outlined in this basic template, you’ll already be ahead of the game and boost your chances of success.
Now, you’re ready to adjust your letter a bit more based on your specific goals, community, or project. Let’s walk through some common examples.
♦ Donation Letter Template: Donation Request
We here at [your organization] are so proud of our recent work to [provide a few details about your past initiatives], and we’d like to thank you for being a part of our community.
However, our mission to [short description of your organization’s mission] is a 24/7 undertaking! We need your help to continue our work. [Provide illustrative details about your needs. Why are you sending them the letter?]
Past campaigns have enabled us to [provide an example or two of your organization’s impact]. As a nonprofit organization, though, we completely rely on community support. None of our efforts would be possible without the help of donors, volunteers, and supportive community members like you.
Would you please consider making a donation of [a specific amount] to help us [refer back to your organization’s needs or next project]?
If you’d like to make a gift, please visit our donation page here: [if an email, include a direct link] [if a physical letter, provide basic instructions for finding your website or sending a check]
Any and all support is greatly appreciated. We’re just excited to get to work! Thank you for being a part of our community and our story.
[Your name and title, not simply the name of your organization]
This fairly general donation letter template covers all the bases. It describes your purpose for fundraising, highlights your organization’s impact, and has a clear call-to-action. Customize this template with your own specifics, and you’re good to go!
♦ Donation Letter Template: Events
We here at [organization name] are excited to announce our upcoming event, [event name/title], coming up on [date].
[In a few sentences, describe the purpose, nature, and impact of the event, including specific activities or special opportunities.]
As a member of our community, we’d love to invite you to join us! However, we need some extra help to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.
Would you please consider chipping in a donation of [a specific amount of money, or a specific in-kind good/service]? With this help, we can ensure that [explain the specific impact of the requested donation].
If you’d like to make a gift, please visit our donation page here: [if an email, include a direct link] [if a physical letter, provide basic instructions for finding your website or sending a check]. Or, contact us at [email address or phone number] to discuss our upcoming event and how you can get involved.
Thank you so much for your support, and we hope to see you soon!
[Your name and title]
Depending on the specifics of your event, you might send this letter to individuals or to local businesses, and you might promote one of several different giving methods (like online donations, text-to-give, in-kind contributions, or volunteering). Adapt the essential components to your particular needs for the event.
However, keep the content of the letter itself focused on one main request. Short and sweet will always be more compelling! Just be sure to tell readers where to learn more or get involved if they want to.
♦ Donation Letter Template: Online Fundraising
We here at [your organization] would like to thank you for being a part of our community.
With the support of our friends and neighbors like you, we’ve been able to accomplish so much over the past year. [Include a few specific details about your recent projects and their impacts.]
We’re happy to announce that we’re launching a new online fundraising initiative! This campaign is raising funds for [purpose of the campaign], and will be essential for us to continue our work into the coming season.
Would you please consider making a donation of [specific amount] to help us kick off our campaign? Please visit our donation page [include a direct link] to get started.
[Add a button that says “Donate Here,” if possible.]
For helping us kick off our online fundraising campaign, we’d love to offer you a special thank you. [Offer some kind of incentive for online donors, like a social media shout out, merchandise coupon, event or raffle ticket, etc.]
Stay tuned for more updates on our campaign! Thanks so much for your support, and we hope to hear from you soon.
[Your name and title]
While the other templates in this post can be adapted for both email and physical donation letters, this one is intended to be sent as an email.
For an online fundraising campaign, your recipients will most likely all have donated to your organization (or at least engaged with it) via online channels in the past. This means your letter should start off by acknowledging that existing relationship.
Express excitement about your newest online fundraising push, and use a clear CTA, like a button, to funnel readers directly to your donation page. Get creative to incentivize early-bird donors, too! These kinds of extra steps can go a long way to boost engagement and help your online fundraising campaign stand out to busy supporters.
♦ Donation Letter Template: Pledge Campaigns
We need your help to reach our pledge goal of [total financial goal for the campaign] by [a specific time and date]!
We’ve launched this rapid-fire campaign to [purpose of the campaign – disaster relief, social or political advocacy, annual fundraising, etc.], and we know we can count on our community to help us get there.
At [your organization], we work hard every day to pursue our mission of [your mission], and our last major campaign resulted in [examples of your impact]. We could never have done it without the support of our friends and neighbors like you.
Pledge your support of [one or a few specific dollar amounts] now with our quick pledge tool: [provide a direct link to your pledge tool]
Please note: [Explain the unique pledge conditions of your campaign, like triggers or matching periods]. Together we can make a huge difference in our community!
Thanks in advance for your support! Be sure to share our fundraising challenge with your friends and family, and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.
[Your name and title]
Pledge fundraising campaigns are a unique way to raise support around a specific goal quickly. Check out our complete guide to pledge campaigns here for more information, including explanations of the pledge conditions mentioned in the template.
No matter the specifics of your pledge campaign, the main idea is to be short and to-the-point. These campaigns are all about speed and quick emotional connection. Remind readers of why the work you do is important, and then challenge them to get involved. You can collect the pledges later, but your goal right now should simply be to mobilize support.
♦ Donation Letter Template: P2P Fundraising Campaigns
I’m raising money on behalf of [your organization]‘s ongoing campaign to [support/fight/raise awareness for your mission].
For [your organization’s age] years, this organization has pursued its mission and enriched our community. Now, I’m excited to be lending my own support to their cause, and I hope you’ll join me!
To reach my own personal goal for this campaign, I need to raise [the volunteer’s fundraising goal]. Would you consider making a donation of [a specific amount] or helping me to spread the word online? Check out my donation page here [include a link to the volunteer’s P2P donation page] to make a contribution or to learn more about [your organization].
[Include any information here if your P2P campaign involves events, like festivals, 5Ks, etc., and how donors can register to get involved.]
This cause means a lot to me, so thank you for your support!
[The volunteer’s name]
Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns involve your supporters raising money on your organization’s behalf by setting up their own basic donation pages and then promoting them online to friends and family. You’ll need to provide supporters and volunteers with a template like this one to make it easy for them to hit all the essentials in their donation requests, social media posts, and emails.
Make sure your template mentions a specific fundraising goal and includes links back to the volunteer’s donation page, not just your organization’s website. The main idea is to empower and engage your supporters. After all, these campaigns are effective because the audience will feel compelled to support their loved one’s passions, not necessarily to support your organization that they may not have heard of before.
♦ Donation Letter Template: Sponsorship Requests
My name is [your name], and I work for the local nonprofit organization, [your organization], as a development and fundraising professional.
If you haven’t heard of our organization, we work to [short description of your mission], and we’ve [brief examples of your impact over recent years]. In fact, last year we raised upwards of [fundraising total] in support of our cause.
I’m reaching out today because I believe the values and priorities of our two organizations align very well. A partnership could greatly benefit both of us, with more stable support for our work and extremely positive promotions of your brand to our loyal audience of supporters.
Please feel free to explore our organization’s history and work here [include a link to your website], and don’t hesitate to get in touch at [your email address or phone number]. We can discuss arranging a structured partnership, a one-time donation, or anything else!
We’re always excited to work with new partners in the community, and we hope you’ll join us!
[Your name and title]
This donation letter template is a bit more formal because requesting a sponsorship from a business (of any size) is really like arranging a partnership. You need to offer the business something in return, usually positive publicity at your events or online, for them to consider making a sizable gift.
Here’s a pro tip for identifying potential sponsors: Implement a matching gift search tool into your donation process, and look out for local businesses that have corporate philanthropy programs and employ a ton of your donors. Check out the Mercy Corps matching gifts page for an idea of what this looks like in action.
♦ Donation Letter Template: New Nonprofits
We’re [your organization], a brand new nonprofit organization in your community. We were founded just [your organization’s age] ago to help support and lead [your mission] in [your city, town, or state].
We’re reaching out to you as a neighbor with a vested interest in seeing our community thrive. [Be more specific if you’re writing to a particular audience.]
But getting a foothold as a new nonprofit is a huge challenge. Raising awareness for our cause and our work is crucial if we’re going to make any kind of long-term impact!
Would you consider making a donation of [specific amount] to get us one step closer to our fundraising goal of [total]?
If we reach this target goal before [date], we’ll be able to [the specific goal of this campaign, like renting an office space or hosting your first event], and you can help us get there!
Please visit our donation page here to get started: [include a direct link]
Also, please explore our website [include a direct link] or follow us on social media [include a direct link] to learn more about our mission and the partners who have already joined our cause.
Together we can make a difference in our community! Please reach out to me at [email address or phone number] if you have any questions about our organization or how you can get involved.
Thanks, and we hope to hear from you soon!
[Your name and title]
Brand new nonprofits have a few major challenges ahead of them – securing initial funding, setting up key partnerships, and establishing an original base of support.
Larger grants for startup organizations (learn more about grant writing here) will most likely make up the bulk of your initial funding, but using letters like this one to find actual communities of supporters is essential in your early days. It’s usually not a good idea to include too many calls-to-action in a single letter, but giving your readers the option to donate, follow you on social media, or just learn more about your organization will cover your bases. Every little bit of engagement and attention counts!
Make sure you’ve got a donation tool set up and a way to track the donations you receive. You’ll want to immediately focus on building relationships with those first donors.
♦ Donation Letter Template: Schools
[Your school’s name] needs your support! My name is [your name], and I’m part of the [your role – the school’s PTA, administrative team, teacher, etc.].
Every year, we work hard to provide the best possible educational and extracurricular activities for our students, but we can’t do it alone. Our tight budget has recently forced us to [provide a specific example or two – cut down on afterschool programs, etc.]. But we know we can count on our community to help us close the gap.
Would you consider making a donation of [specific amount] to contribute to our fund for [describe your campaign’s purpose or goal]?
A gift of [amount] will allow us to [the specific impact of a donation, tied to the campaign’s main purpose].
Please visit our donation page here if you’d like to get started: [provide a direct link].
Or, reach out to us at [email address or phone number] to talk about our school’s needs and how you can get involved.
Don’t forget! Our [your school’s next event, like a fall festival] is coming up soon, and we’d love to see you there! Get your tickets now: [provide a direct link].
Together we can continue making our school an environment of excellence for our kids. Thank you!
[Your name and title]
School fundraising is a round-the-clock undertaking! Thankfully, schools are also fairly tight-knit communities, and every parent wants the best for their child’s school. Tap into that shared desire by clearly emphasizing your needs and making it easy for them to get involved. Quickly mention any upcoming opportunities or events, as well.
Use this template to make sure you’re including all the essentials in your next email blast or mailed letter to your community of parents. Then, adapt it to your particular goals, projects, and fundraising ideas.
♦ Donation Letter Template: Churches
[Begin with a story focused on your church’s recent successes, such as growth in membership or your positive impact on the surrounding community. Connect with the individual member by thanking them for being a supportive part of your community.]
While we feel blessed to have been able to [refer to successful project mentioned above], we need your help to [continue the project or pursue a new one].
With your support, we can [your next project or campaign]. Would you consider contributing [specific amount] to help us work toward our mission? Together, we can reach our community’s goals.
On behalf of our church community at [your church’s name], I thank you in advance for your support. Your contribution will go toward [specific elements of your project that need funding]. You can give online here: [include a direct link].
Or, you can use our text-to-tithe tool to give on the go: [include text-to-tithe instructions].
Feel free to reach out to me at [email address or phone number] if you have questions about our new project.
[Name of a leader in your church]
While they can’t always fundraise the same way as 501(c)(3) nonprofits, churches are community-focused organizations that nonetheless rely on their members, supporters, and neighbors for support. Fundraising letters have always been a powerful tool for church fundraising teams to accomplish a wide range of tasks.
Reach out to your community with a concise, heartfelt letter explaining why you need support. Many churches have found great success with text giving tools in recent years, so be sure to promote that outlet, as well.
This is a fairly basic example, so check out our complete guide to writing church fundraising letters for even more templates.
Writing Donation Letters: Our Pro Tips
At Snowball Fundraising, we help organizations of all sizes get set up quickly with powerful but easy-to-use fundraising tools. Having those outlets ready to actually accept and process donations is essential, but how will you let potential donors know when and how to use them?
Here are a few of our own pro tips for maximizing your success with donation letters:
- Tell a story. The templates above cover the essentials, but you have to emotionally connect with your readers to motivate them to give. Do that by telling a story about your organization, your mission, your constituents, and your needs. Check out this guide to nonprofit storytelling techniques for more examples.
- Include visuals or extra materials. If you’re sending an email, include a picture or two in your message to illustrate your work and community. For physical letters, including a pamphlet, card, or one-pager (especially when you’re promoting a specific project or trying to secure a sponsorship) can be a good idea.
- Think about your audience. Don’t just write a single letter or email to send to everyone on your mailing list. Segment your mailing list into discrete groups, and then tailor your letters to those audiences. For instance, you should write different letters to your recurring donors and to your lapsed donors to really maximize their engagement with your messages.
- Be specific. Throughout the templates above, we mentioned asking for a specific amount of money in each letter. Vague requests are much less compelling for donors. However, this also applies to the type of donation; if you’re looking to increase your number of recurring donors, specifically ask readers to consider setting up recurring donations!
- Be conversational. Again, these letters are all about connecting emotionally, reminding readers of their relationship to your cause, and quickly making a donation request. Avoid using internal fundraising lingo and focus on being personable and warm with your wording. The one exception might be a corporate sponsorship letter, depending on the nature and scope of the partnership you’re hoping to form.
- Track data. This step is critical to ensure your donation letters are constantly improving. Always collect and track some form of engagement data when you send a donation letter. This could be as simple as recording how many donations your physical letter campaign generated. For email and social media posts, it’s a little easier to track a wider variety of data points. Use Google Analytics or a tool like MailChimp to track engagement with your message, and make sure your donation tools make it easy to report data back to your CRM or central data center.
- Partner with a direct mail fundraising company. You might assume that working with a direct mail fundraising platform to send out donation letters is more costly, and therefore detract from your mission. Not so fast! With a powerful and low-cost partner like GivingMail, you can raise more for your campaign for less than it would cost for paper, ink, envelope, and stamps on your own! That way, your own fundraising team can save time and effort for other important tasks.
The Snowball Formula for Successful Modern Fundraising
Before we close out this guide, let’s walk through the Snowball formula for successful fundraising in the digital age. This philosophy guides the development of all of our donation tools:
- Don’t kill the donor’s buzz. Donating should be fast and easy, and donors should feel great while they’re doing it. Never slow them down with complicated steps, or you’ll risk distracting them from the spirit of generosity that inspired them to give in the first place.
- Secure a card to streamline the process. Once you’ve built a relationship with a donor, encourage them to save their card information on file with you. Not having to enter in payment information the next time they want to donate can play a major role in ensuring that they actually will.
- Promote recurring donations. Recurring donations are the ultimate goal because they represent a strong, sustaining relationship between that donor and your organization. Once you’ve secured their recurring support, you can focus on growing your emotional and philanthropic connections with them.
With these core steps, any organization, large or small, can start building a rock-solid base of support. Be sure to continue your research with a few additional fundraising resources, too:
- Direct Mail for Nonprofits: The Ultimate Fundraising Guide. Sending your donation letters via direct mail is a great way to stand out in the minds of your donors. Learn more about effective fundraising practices with this guide.
- Fundraising Ideas For Nonprofits | Directory Of 75+ Ideas. Looking for more fundraising ideas to promote to your donors? Check out our complete directory.
- 85+ Awesome Church Fundraising Ideas for Your Congregation. We’ve got plenty of fundraising ideas just for churches, too! Bookmark this guide.
- Best Nonprofit Software To Raise Money Fast. Looking to build out a fundraising toolkit on a budget? We’ve got you covered.
If you’re a new nonprofit, getting started with a free Snowball donation page will ensure you’ve covered all the essentials and are ready to start sending those letters!
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