How to Call for Nonprofit Donations

While successful nonprofits attract consistent donors who reliably and repeatedly give without prompting, it is incredibly important to remain active in seeking out new donors and inspiring repeated gifts from would-be one-time donors.

Reaching out to current or potential constituents to ask for support can be daunting, but a sincere, well-crafted, and timely call for donations can be an effective touchstone in forming those relationships. Read on to learn more about types of nonprofit donations and how to ask for donations in appropriate and effective ways.

Why is it Important to Call for Nonprofit Donations?

Person wondering

In a perfect world, everyone with an inclination to give would dedicate hours of research seeking out missions that align with their convictions, and then become regular supporters who routinely give of their time and money to ensure the continued work of that mission.

Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. Many potential donors want to give, but feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of worthy causes and needs in their communities and abroad and are unsure of where or how to donate.

That’s why the onus is on the organizations to take the first step in connecting potential constituents to their cause. Though the methods of calling for donations can vary greatly (more on that in the next section), the main purpose of a call for donations is to reach out and begin, or rekindle, that donor/nonprofit relationship in a productive way.

Calls for donations are so much more than just the ask. Besides spreading the word about your nonprofit’s mission and therefore possibly recruiting new donors and volunteers, they also serve as effective touchstones with already established donors, reminding them of the reason they felt moved to give in the first place.

Conversely, failure to remain proactive in calls for donations can lead to constituent stagnation, putting the future stability of ongoing programs (and the organization itself) at risk. A nonprofit that fails to grow is unlikely to reach its full potential, and a nonprofit that fails to build and maintain support is unlikely to remain solvent.

Calls for donations are a vital part of the incoming revenue for nonprofits. Sometimes, a gentle reminder of the mission is enough to reactivate a lapsed donor.

Ways to Call for Nonprofit Donations

Face to face meeting

The possible methods for ask campaigns are defined only by the limitations of communication itself. If it reaches people, it can be an avenue for a call for donations.

Face-to-face interaction, phone calls, emails, letters, texts, print ads, and social media can all be used as methods to call for nonprofit donations.

When deciding which method to use, it is important to consider the different types of nonprofit donations and donors, and determine which communication would be most appropriate for your target audience.

A face-to-face meeting would be most appropriate when reaching out to a previous major donor, or one that has given substantial large gifts (~5k+) in the past. In fact, many large-scale organizations retain specialized outreach professionals that focus solely on maintaining close relationships with major donors.

While that simply isn’t possible for smaller organizations with less budget for overhead, it’s important to make major donor asks as personable as possible. Simply reaching out to a major donor via phone would be far more appropriate than a mass mailing. Use the opportunity to keep them up to date on the ways their funds are making a difference and make a point to ask for their input when appropriate.

Letters and emails are perfect for reaching out to established donors, as it is imperative to acknowledge their previous contributions when asking for additional support. (NOTE: Acknowledgements should be a regular part of processing any contribution. Having an acknowledgment system in place ensures donor recognition and helps maintain a tie to those constituents.)

Letters and emails are also excellent ways to reach out to likely potential donors as they are great for delivering large amounts of information in a single communication.

Prospective donors are those who, while they have not given previously, have been flagged as showing interest in your cause or mission. This could be anyone who has requested information via social media or website form, an individual who has approached volunteers/staff at an event, or someone who has a proven interest in your mission.

These potential donors may be reached via any form of communication, but a letter or email that can be personalized to reflect why they are being contacted is more likely to produce a constituent relationship.

Cold calls for donations are the least personal method of calling for donations. Think of these campaigns as looking for tiny seashells by sifting buckets of sand. Most recipients will not respond and will simply pass through like the sand—that’s okay!

The point of cold calls for donations is to find potential new constituents in the sieve once the sand has passed through. After all, the first gift is the most important, as those that give once are much more likely to give in the future. Cold calls via social media are an effective way to reach a huge number of potential donors with relatively little cost.

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Templates to Use When Calling for Nonprofit Donations Through Letters and Emails

Template

Feel free to use the following example and templates to help craft your own written call for donations. Notice that they all include an acknowledgment of previous gifts, a specific example of how their gifts have or will impact the mission, and finally, the ask itself. Allow your mission to guide your voice.

Call For Donation Letter Template

[Date]
[Donor Name]
[Organization]
[Street Address 1]
[Street Address 2]

Dear [donor name],

Thank you again for your continued support of [organization or mission]. Thanks to you, [give an example of something concrete that has been accomplished with donor funds. Be as specific as possible].

We’re reaching out to you today because we know how important [the mission] is to you, and we wanted to share [an exciting new development / a major need or problem]. This is especially important to our mission because [tell why it will make a difference].

Can I count on you to make a contribution to [specific goal or the organization in general] today? Your gift of [suggested amount] will [give a specific result of their gift amount]. If a gift of that amount is not possible at this time, rest assured that a gift of any size will bring us that much closer to [achieving the goal].

We know you value [subject of your mission] and hope that you feel moved to once again contribute to our efforts.

Thank you for everything you make possible,

[Your Name]
[Position]
[Organization]
[Contact Info]

Call For Donation Email Template

Subject: [the urgent need]

Dear [donor name],

Please allow me to once again express my gratitude for your past support of [organization or mission]. Because of your generosity, [give an example of something concrete that has been accomplished with donor funds. Be as specific as possible]. I’m writing to you today because we are facing an urgent need [explain the need or problem] and hope that you will once again join us in [doing whatever your mission is].

A simple gift of [smallish amount] is enough to [concrete result of gift]. A gift of [larger amount] can [more impressive impact]. However, know that any gift of any size will contribute toward [goal of your mission].

With your help, we can [overcome the problem or need mentioned above].

Yours in thanks,

[Your Name]
[Position]
[Organization]
[Contact Info]

Call For Donation Example Letter

September 1, 2022
Generous Sam
123 Kindness Lane
Boredville, AR 12345

Dear Generous,

On behalf of myself and the children of Boredville, I’d like to extend gratitude for your help in making the Boredville Children's Museum a reality. Without the commitment and vision of donors like you, we would never have achieved our goal of opening our doors by the end of the 2021-2022 school year. Thanks to you, thousands of children will have a safe, enriching space to learn and play over their break.

We are on track to begin phase two of the BCM, the Enchanted Forest Play Space, by October of this year. Children will love exploring this realistic storybook scene complete with stepping stones, treehouses, and a burbling spring nestled within the safety of our 1.5-acre outdoor space.

While we are confident and proud of our ability to maintain our staff and overhead independently through admissions and memberships, we rely on the generosity of people like you, who recognize the importance of play in raising curious and imaginative children, to continue growing our museum and to help make it accessible for ALL of Boredville’s youth through free play days and afterschool programs.

Can I count on you to join me in contributing to the Enchanted Forest Fund to keep our momentum growing and continue to spread the joy of play? A gift of $200 will plant one tree in our forest, and a gift of $500 will place a stepping stone in the stream crossing. A sponsorship of a tree or stone will be recognized by the name of the donor on their gift. Come find your tree or stone in Fall 2023!

Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued support. The Boredville Children’s Museum is a testimonial to the cumulative impact of caring individuals coming together to create something special. You are helping shape tomorrow’s leaders by giving to today’s children.

Yours in gratitude,

Lady Boss
Executive Director
Boredville Children’s Museum

Wrapping Up: How to Call for Nonprofit Donations

Telephone

Asking for donations is something that gets easier and more successful with time and practice. However, building relationships based on appreciation and trust with constituents will make all your calls for donations far more fruitful.

A great way to work up to the ask is to simply reach out to your constituents to show your gratitude, nurture your relationship with them, and remind them of the important work they make possible. Doing so will not only allow you to grow more comfortable communicating with donors, but it will also increase the likelihood of your donors responding positively to future calls for donations.

For more tips and tricks on securing funding for your organization, check out our post on how to increase monthly donors at your nonprofit.

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