If you work for or volunteer at a nonprofit organization, you understand that a large portion of the organization's funding comes from donations from individuals and institutions. One way nonprofits solicit donations is by sending out letters to past donors and potential donors, asking for money. A key part of the letter is explaining to a donor why their gift is so important to the organization. Some letters also make donors aware of incentives they will receive if they give money.

Open a new text document for your letter. Leave several spaces at the top of the letter document for your nonprofit's letterhead.

Type the date of the letter, press "enter" twice, then type the recipient's full name. On the next line, type her street address, then on the next line, type her city, state and zip code. Press "enter" twice.

Type "Dear" then the recipient's name. Use the first name if you want to seem friendly and personal or her title and last name if you wish to be more formal. Type a colon after the name. Never open the letter with "Dear Friend" or anything generic. You are asking people for donations, so you need to be as a personal as possible. If you have a lot of letters to write, consider using a mail program that will insert the names in automatically.

Press "enter" twice, then type the body of the letter. Write an engaging story in the first paragraph. It should grab the reader's attention and make her continue reading the letter. The story should tell how your organization aided an individual. For example, if you provide food to working families, tell a story about a specific family you aided and how the food helped them thrive. If you are a performing arts nonprofit, tell a story about a child who was impacted by seeing a play or dance at your venue.

Continue the letter by explaining how the donor's money will help your organization to continue to carry out its mission. Use the word "you" frequently in the letter, to make the donor feel involved with the organization and helpful. Stress how her donations make a difference. Leave a space between each paragraph for readability.

Ask for money in the closing paragraph of the letter. Be specific in your request by typing something along the lines of "Can you give $50, $100 or whatever you can afford to help us feed the hungry this winter?" Be sure to phrase it as an ask, not a demand. A donor doesn't want to feel as though you're expecting the money from her.

Thank the donor in advance and close the letter. Type "Sincerely," then press "enter" four times to leave space for your signature. Type your name and relevant title, such as "Director of Donations" or "CEO" underneath it.

Add a postscript to the letter if you think it is relevant. For example, if you've received a challenge grant, mention that every dollar the donor gives will be doubled until a certain date. If you have a promotion, such as a free T-shirt for every $50 donation, mention that in the postscript.