Writing a donation request letter for youth arts and sports programs can be a tricky endeavor: Other causes that benefit kids and also schools often send out request letters as well, so your potential donors have probably seen requests just like yours many times before. So how do you get them to sit up, take notice, and donate? You have to make your request different.
(More about donation request letters, including free to copy sample donation request letters.)
Use a personal writing style
It may be tempting to make your donation letter sound like an official school mailing but this may be the wrong way to go. You do not want your letter asking for donations for youth sports and arts programs to sound like an institution issuing a form letter to the unnamed masses but more like personal correspondence from one friend to another, living in the same community.
Include the reader
A part of using a personal style in a letter such as this is including the reader. While it is the school or other organization that runs the arts and sports programs, the donor is an integral part and it’s important he or she feels important and needed. You can achieve this by addressing the letter to the donor by name. However, in this day and age of trying to protect one’s personal information, it may be a good option to not use a person’s name. To test this for yourself, send your letter with the name to half your mailing list and a version of your letter without a personal name to the other half of your mailing list. Then measure your results. (This is also called A/B or split testing.)
It is important to be personal however, if you use a name or not. Use the word “you” often to indicate that you are in fact talking directly to the reader. The best donation letters use this technique. To write and sign the letter, consider choosing a person who regularly deals with the public and whose name may be familiar to your potential donors.
Make it an emotional cause
People respond when you bring their emotions into the matter. In the case of asking for donations for youth arts and sports programs this means talking about the students who will benefit from these programs. But don’t stop there.
Include personal stories of individual students or graduates of the program. If you want to get your readers’ emotions involved then you have to make the cause real. Talking about students as a whole is fine but a bit abstract. Adding some specific examples takes your ‘general good cause for kids’ to one that supports real students whose lives have been bettered by these programs. (If you’re planning on using names make sure you get proper permissions and releases.)
Show that your program also serves the community as a whole
Let your supporters know how their donations will not only help make the lives of students in their neighborhood better, but how their donations will also help and affect the community as whole: when students are inspired, they will stay in school longer and receive a diploma, go on to receive a higher education and in the end will be able to contribute to your community in positive ways. At this point, adding statistics from your program will not only be helpful, but are a must to support your point.
Detail the problem and offer hope
Tell you reader what will happen without sufficient donations. Explain any problems that will result or that are already manifesting. Show what will happen if you do not receive their support.
But always keep your requests hopeful. People do not want to be fighting a losing battle. They want to help save the day and to be on the winning team. Stay upbeat and let them know that their donations can and will improve lives.
Asking for donations for youth arts and sports programs is easy when you remember that your letter needs to focus on its audience as much as the cause that inspired it. Remember that people want to help. All you have to do is give them a reason.