The best way to go about asking for personal donations for your organization is to ask people personally. If you can't send workers to stand in front of the local supermarket or go door to door, your next best option is to write letters explaining your cause and personally asking for donations. Just like any sales letter, however, your donation letter must catch the interest of the audience and gain their sympathy or they will not continue to read the letter or donate to your cause.
Address and Date the Letter
Begin your letter by typing the date. Skip a space, and type the recipient's name and address on separate lines. Skip an additional line and type "Dear Mr./Ms. (Last name)" followed by a colon. If you have a mailing list, use the mail merge function in your word processing program to insert the recipient's name and address on the inside address as well as the name on the salutation.
Begin the Letter with Surprising Information
Begin the letter with a surprising fact or statistic, or another statement that will immediately catch the attention of the reader. For example, if you were writing a letter soliciting donations for a soup kitchen that serves area families, you might write, "Did you know that one in six children in our city go hungry each night?" Many readers will be surprised by this statement and continue reading your letter.
Explain Your Program and How it Helps Others
Explain your program and what you do. Give concrete, specific examples of how your program helps others or performs its function so the recipient can see how their money would be used. If the money would partly benefit your organization, explain how much of their donation would go to the cause and how much would go to overhead such as administrative fees.
Ask for a Specific Amount of Money
Ask for a specific amount of money. If your audience is not wealthy or if only a small amount of money from many donors is needed to help your cause, ask for a small amount of money, like $5.00, and suggest that the reader may choose to donate more. Letter recipients are more likely to donate if you ask for a reasonable amount of money that most people can afford.
Reiterate the Need for Donations
Close your letter by reiterating your appeal for help and the need for donations. Suggest how even a small donation can make a difference, and tell them specifically how to donate.
Sign the Letter
Type "Sincerely," and skip three line spaces. Type your full name and title. Print the letter on your organization's letterhead, and sign each letter above your typed name. If you are sending too many letters to sign individually, insert a graphic of your signature into the letter file or have a stamp made with your signature on it.
Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.