Not-for-profit organizations rely on in-kind donations as well as cash. Engage potential donors in a letter that is professional but makes a personal connection to the recipient. Emphasize the good work of the organization and how it will use the requested supplies. Tell the donor how to make a contribution. Here are some ideas for how to write a request letter for materials, office supplies, medicine, or other items that might be needed by an organization.

Make a Connection

Explain why your organization is important to the potential donor. A school that needs supplies for its extracurricular or core academic programs should seek donations from parents and friends of the school. In the letter, emphasize this link. Remind parents that those at the school are committed to providing the best possible educational opportunities for their children. If soliciting local businesses, remind them that the school is part of the same community and a donation of supplies can demonstrate the business is committed to its customers and their families.

Promote the Work

State the organization's mandate and describe its results. A local animal shelter writing a request letter could include a paragraph that outlines the medical care, housing and adoption programs it provides. Potential donors familiar with the organization will benefit from a reminder of why the particular charity is worthy of a donation of supplies. Include statistics, such as the number of students who participate in specific programs or the number of dogs cared for on an annual basis. Numbers give the potential donor an idea of the scale and success of an organization and provide a greater incentive to give supplies to help with the cause.

Itemize the Request

Supplies are tangible items that must fulfill a specific purpose. When requesting supplies, it helps the donor to know exactly what the organization needs and how it will be used. A school's request letter could specify it needs paintbrushes for an art program, smocks to protect student clothing, or colored pencils. An animal rescue could ask specifically for certain brands of food, towels, pet beds, leashes and collars.

State whether you accept used items or want the donors to give new supplies. Link the list back to the organization's mission by stating, for example, that the art program assists children who need afterschool care or that the pet beds permit a more comfortable shelter experience for homeless pets.

If your list is focused on a few items, include it as a bullet-point list in the body of the letter. If the list is longer, include it as an attachment. If you include an attachment, direct recipients to the attachment with a phrase such as "please review our list of most-needed items on the attached list."

State the Donation Procedure

Let the recipient know how to fulfill your request for supplies. The request letter should clearly state how to make a donation, if the organization provides a pick-up service, how the donor can schedule that pick-up and its designated dates and times. If there is a drop-off location for supplies, include the street address, directions and times that donors can leave supplies.

Tell the request letter recipient when and how you issue donation receipts, if applicable. Organizations that provide receipts should include a tax identification number.