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How to write an email asking for donations

Published on
May 15, 2023
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Writing an email to ask for donations can be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be.

Here’s 6 things to remember:

1. You’re asking for a good reason

It’s not you asking for money for yourself, so leave the guilt at home. You’re asking for a cause you believe in.

2. Your subject line is everything

Did you know that 35% of email recipients will open an email based on the subject line? So don’t fall victim to the email ignorers. Essentially, your email subject line should give the recipient an idea of what the email is about, without giving away too much. Make sure there’s an incentive to open the email, you might even want to appeal to the individual by using words like ‘you’ or ‘I’ - and don’t be afraid to get creative (e.g. “Thought you might want to know about this peculiar opportunity.” or take inspiration from one of former President Obama’s famous email subject lines; ‘Are you in?’  books who would often use certain subject lines in his campaign emails: “Are you in?”).  

3. It’s all about them – Mastering personal motivation

If you’re asking a specific individual or organisation take some time to read their website, connect with them on LinkedIn – get familiar with the work they do and why they’re the ideal candidate to reach out to. Or if you’re sending out a blast to an entire database, make sure you’ve segmented a list with similar attributes so that the messaging can really speak to them. What drives them? What will motivate them about your cause? Make them want to do it. To feel like they’re genuinely valued and appreciate. That by donating, they (personally!) are creating real change.

4. People like to know why they’re being asked to do something

So don’t forget the ‘because’ piece. What will happen if they donate? What will happen if they don’t? Give them the chance to get to know you, and your mission. This is the perfect opportunity to provide some background on your organisation, an explanation of why you need the money and what it will be used for. They’ll be asking themselves “Does my individual contribution really matter?”, so make sure to explain how the donation will create real impact. And we repeat: this needs to feel personal. You need to answer, ‘why me’.

5. The more information you can provide, the better!

Give any additional information that might be helpful, such as links to your website or social media pages, or information about any past successes or accomplishments.

6. Always close with a call to action

Then actually action it. End your email by asking the recipient for their support and provide them with any necessary instructions on how to donate. You don’t want too many clicks here! Streamline the process as much as possible. Consider payment first, then details. You can also suggest a follow-up meeting to discuss the donation further. And don’t be disheartened if you don’t receive a reply to your email straight away (or at all) – try jumping on the phone or connecting with them on LinkedIn.

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How to write an email asking for donations

Writing an email to ask for donations can be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be.
Learn more