Writing an Effective Donation Request Letter
for your Team or School: 10 Tips
Once you have your fundraising plan in place, the next step is to write and send out your Donation Request Letter. Crafting a personal, clear and concise message is key. Let’s break it down into manageable parts.
1. Know your audience
Identify who will receive this letter. Do you have a database of potential donors? Is it up to date? Using first and last names is a powerful tool. However, make sure names are spelled correctly.
2. Use “I” and “You” but mostly “You”
Fundraising letters are about what your supporters want, not about what you want. They will want to contribute to causes they care about. They want their contribution to be recognized. Avoid using “we” or “our”.
- “You can help.”
- “You can make a difference.”
- “Your assistance makes it possible.”
- “I ask you to ….”
- “I’d like to let you know how your money will be put to work.”
- “I’d like to like to tell you how much your donation will accomplish.”
3. Talk about benefits, not just needs
Emphasize the value of the donation. What will the money be used to achieve for the team or school? It’s not just about the equipment or hotel rooms. It’s about life experience, team building and intrinsic rewards that will be brought to the kids. Make it about the end result of the fundraising.
4. Ask for money, not support
The donation request letter should be clear and repeat some variation of your call to action throughout the letter.
You need cash, not cheerleaders.
Don’t be shy and don’t be vague. Ask for a specific amount: $20, $40, $100. Use the words “give”, “donate” or “make a gift”. The word “support” is not specific enough.
5. Make it personal
Here is where you tell the school or team’s story. What’s been achieved already? What could the future hold? Tell your potential donors about what it would mean to these kids to reach their fundraising goal. Try adding a quote from one of the team members.
“When I put on a new jersey it just makes me feel like I’m part of this awesome team and I want to run like crazy and score a goal!”
Jessy Sinclaire, #30
6. Keep it clear, simple and straightforward
Don’t mince words or use unnecessarily fancy language. Generally, people will glance over a letter to get the main idea first and then, hopefully, go back for clarification. Consequently, make sure you capture their attention by keeping your message specific and uncluttered.
7. Make the letter easy to read
How the letter looks physically on the page is important. Leaving white space on the page helps the eye to rest on important information. In addition, it draws a reader’s eyes along the page and improves readability.
- Indent each paragraph
- Avoid paragraphs that are more than 6 lines long. But vary their length
- Use bullets to emphasize your points
- Use subheadings. If the letter is long, try centering and underlining the subheadings
8. Sign it and say Thank-you
Thank your potential supporters in advance of their donation. This helps to set their intention to make a contribution. Make sure to have a real signature from a real person. This personal touch makes is clear that your ask is from the heart.
9. Before you send it, have someone else read it
Having a fresh set of eyes to read over the letter is invaluable. Proofread and get feedback on your draft to make sure your letter is crystal clear. Spelling mistakes and simple grammatical errors are distracting and unprofessional
10. Track your supporters donations
- Make next year’s job easier by keeping track of who donated and how much they contributed. Make note of any feedback you received from your letter. Any new volunteers that come on board next year will greatly appreciate not having to start from scratch.
One of the best ways to improve the effectiveness of your donation request letter is to focus more on the donor and less on the specific fundraising goal. Keep the letter’s look and content crisp, clean and concise. Make sure to include all of the personal touches to make your letter stand out. Using these effective tips can help you craft a letter that gets you the funds your team or school needs for the year.