Sending out a donation request letter for your animal-focused nonprofit can be daunting. Letters asking for donations are constantly sent out by animal-focused charities and groups worldwide. So how can you meet your fundraising goals by making your donation request stand out in such a crowded field?
In this guide, we’ll look at five critical parts of creating a unique and meaningful animal-focused donation request letter. While one nonprofit’s letter will look different from another’s, most organizations will leverage the following steps:
- Step 1: Begin With the Details
- Step 2: Give Those Detail Meaning
- Step 3: Help Your Donor Solve a Problem
- Step 4: State the Benefits
- Step 5: Share Your Animal Nonprofit’s Donation Request Letter
To raise as much as possible and create engaging donation letters, plan to take a few additional steps, including adding high-quality graphics, following an in-depth editing process, formatting the letter’s text in easy-to-read paragraphs, and developing targeted mailing lists. Revelation Pets recommends investing in software with automated email and text message functionality, so that you can quickly send your letter and track real-time response metrics. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Begin With the Details
Before people even think about donating money, they want to know where their money is going. Thus, your best bet to garner trust and donations is clearly spelling out your exact fundraising goals and how donated money will be spent.
In the case of your animal-focused nonprofit, be specific. For example, how will the money raised be used to keep strays off the street, rescue abandoned puppies, or protect endangered species? Will it be matched by a local business, such as a kennel or pet store, to double the impact of each donation?
Moreover, even if you don’t initially have a specific monetary goal in mind, it’s essential you develop one. Stating an actual figure for how much you want to raise helps make your need more real to potential donors. Additionally, having a specific amount of money that you are trying to raise will not only motivate your donors, but also everyone who works with you to try as hard as possible to reach it.
If you’re sending your letter in the middle of a fundraising campaign, you can use your donation requests as an opportunity to share your proximity to hitting your target goal. Try adding a fundraising thermometer to your letters to provide an easy-to-follow visual representation and update it with each new letter you send.
Step 2: Give Those Details Meaning
Providing your campaign’s details right off the bat lets readers know precisely why you are sending out your letter. Once they understand what you are asking for, you can begin to explain why you are asking for it. At this point in your letter, plan to describe the plight of animals who do not receive your help.
Talk about the strays and the dumped puppies, the dark reality, and why your organization was created. To invoke a meaningful emotional reaction, consider using one of these strategies:
- Including real images of the animals you serve
- Sharing specific animals’ stories
- Writing fundraising requests in the voice of a recently rescued animal
No need to be overly dramatic—just be honest. Many of the animals you work with are looking at rough and possibly short lives without your help. Give your readers clear insight into this situation and define your organization’s brand in this context.
Step 3: Help Your Donor Solve a Problem
Once you’ve stated the problem your community is facing, you can position your organization and, in turn, your supporters as the most effective means to solve it. At this stage in your letter, make a direct connection between your readers’ potential donations and the impact they will make on animals’ lives, channeling the emotion you generated in the previous step.
Talk briefly but clearly about any special programs that donations will help fund or how donations will provide a boost to your existing programs and activities. To be as direct as possible, consider using the following format: “With a monthly donation of $X, you can help provide life-saving medical services to animals at our shelter.”
Share with your readers exactly what they can do to help you improve the lives of animals in your area, list the next steps they need to take, and clearly answer any questions a supporter might have, including:
- When is the donation deadline? Is it a year-end fundraiser?
- Can their gift be matched?
- How should they donate?
- What information do they need to donate?
- How can they learn more or find additional opportunities?
On your nonprofit’s end, try to make this donation process as easy and simple as possible, such as offering a text-to-give phone number and ensuring your donation page is mobile-friendly. Even if you’re solving an important problem, when it’s difficult to complete a donation, supporters tend not to give.
Step 4: State the Benefits
Along with stating the intangible benefits of donating to a good cause—such as the satisfaction of knowing cats and dogs in your community are finding their forever homes—your fundraising campaign may also offer more tangible benefits to your donors.
For example, if you’re hosting a crowdfunding fundraiser, you can design donation reward tiers to incentivize supporters to give more. By giving above a certain amount, donors become eligible to receive a higher reward in return. At one tier, donors might get a free dog training session at their local dog daycare. At another, higher tier, you could offer a gift card for a pet store or dog groomer.
While these benefits won’t be the primary reason a donor chooses to support your nonprofit, they can be effective in convincing a new supporter on the fence to donate or an existing donor to contribute more.
Step 5: Share Your Animal Nonprofit’s Donation Request Letter
If you’ve followed the steps above, you’ve likely developed a compelling draft of a donation request letter. Great job! However, your work for this letter isn’t done just yet. For your letter to have an impact on your organization, it has to reach your supporters and potential donors.
Determine the channels where your target audience s most active. These might include:
- Social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.)
- Text messaging
- Direct mail
- Digital and physical ads
- Newspaper articles
Then, share the letter you’ve written across your chosen channels. According to Gingr, you can automatically personalize your communications on many channels, including email, direct mail, and text messaging, to include each recipient’s name and provide long-time supporters with suggested donation amounts that align with their previous gifts. As a result, you’ll be able to heighten the impact of your letter with a personal, direct, and moving appeal to each individual donor.
Finally, don’t forget to sign your letter. Ideally, it should be signed and addressed by a beloved community leader. When a donation request letter comes from someone people trust and respect, such as a long-term volunteer, board member, or nonprofit director, they’re more likely to listen to the letter’s call to action.
Ultimately, your letter should be direct, honest, and sincere. By following the steps above, you’re putting your nonprofit in the best position to genuinely connect with donors and fundraise for your cause.