Your organization relies on the generosity of others. That generosity is often shown by means of donations – whether through financial contributions or the gifting of tangible goods (such as software and technology).
How can you ask for donations and still sound gracious? Sometimes getting “the ask” just right can be a challenge. In this article, we’ll offer tips for writing effective financial and technology donation requests and provide sample letters for each.
General Rules to Live By
There are a few guidelines to consider regardless of the type of donation letter you are drafting. Start by grabbing the reader’s attention, but keep the tone personal and conversational. Don’t be afraid to use mail merge and address each prospect by name (instead of using “Dear Friend”).
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Personalizing the experience has been proven to yield better results. Additionally, keep your request brief, but at the same time tell a story that appeals to the heart. This can include letting the reader know the consequences of not contributing to your cause.
Requesting Financial Donations from Volunteers
Your volunteers already support your organization by giving their time. Why aren’t you asking them to also lend their financial resources too? Volunteer and donor cross-pollination is a hot topic among nonprofits. Simply asking your volunteers to donate can yield huge results.
When soliciting financial contributions from volunteers, here are some important elements to include in the letter:
- Praise volunteers for the work that they have done. Give specific examples of their accomplishments, such as the number of items collected or the number of clients served.
- Let them know that not only does your mission take the work of volunteers, but it also requires funding. Even though they already volunteer for you, this may be the time to educate them about your mission and vision.
- Discuss a particular project or program for which you are raising funds and explain the impact it will have on your services. For example, a donation of $50 would help feed ten hungry children.
- Directly ask if the volunteer would consider donating.
- Make it easy to donate via your website (or other means) and give simple directions on how to do so. Once prospects reach this point, it is also worthwhile to give suggested donation tiers, as well as an option for an “other amount.”
- Explicitly mention how their donation will be used.
- Provide your contact information in case donors have questions.
Requesting Technology Donations from For-Profit Businesses
Corporations often have funds set aside for philanthropy. Therefore, if you already have relationships with for-profit businesses, reach out to them and seek advice for soliciting software or other technology donations.
As an example, several VolunteerHub clients have used the following approach to request technology sponsorships. Here’s how to make an impact with this type of ask:
- Outline your needs. What challenges are you facing? How does this affect your organization?
- Introduce your proposed software solution and provide a web link for sponsors to get additional information about the product.
- List the specific goals that the proposed technology will help your organization meet.
- Don’t be shy about communicating monthly or yearly costs of the product.
- Ask if the company would be willing to help sponsor the cost.
- Offer to set up a conference call between your organization, the corporation, and the software provider. This gives your prospective donor a chance to learn exactly how its money will be used and how the software will aid your organization.
Many of the tips we’ve mentioned are included in our popular solicitation templates (see resources). Feel free to customize them for your organization’s needs before sending. We believe you will be pleasantly surprised with the results. Good luck!
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