How to Ask for Donations: Guide for Nonprofits

Donations sustain nonprofits to continue their organizational efforts. Without these gifts, they’ll struggle to keep up with operating costs. But how do they maintain an annual stream of funds?

The most critical factor in how to ask for donations are the words you use to your prospective donors. Whether you’re writing a direct mail or online donation page caption, your fundraising appeals must have an impact.

How you ask is as important as who you ask for support. Describe your nonprofit organization’s mission through simple, concise, and effective messages to boost donations. Not only will you increase your revenue but also donor retention.

Direct mail postcards can be a powerful tool for obtaining donations. Sending a tangible reminder of your mission directly to potential donors can create a personal connection and evoke a sense of urgency. With the help of Cactus Mailing, nonprofits can leverage high-quality designs and printing services to ensure their message stands out in a crowded mailbox. By combining compelling stories with appealing visuals on a postcard, nonprofits can grab attention and motivate recipients to contribute to their cause.

Here are some techniques on how to ask for donations to help you achieve your fundraising goals.

Why you should know how to ask for donations

Asking for monetary help may feel like a burden, and it’s no different when asking as a nonprofit organization. Thus, a good donation appeal can help you win the hearts of your potential donors.

A good fundraising letter is an opportunity to tap into the selfless human impulse. While not every fundraising asks is a sure donation, you still get your message out to people.

Not everyone knows how to write a compelling appeal, but it’s a vital skill to raise money for your fundraising campaign. So, this article will show you (6) ways on how to ask for donations to support your cause.

Volunteers holding boxes containing donations for charity

How to ask for donations in person

In-person meetings are the best way to deliver your official asks. It lessens miscommunication and gives your mission a personalized touch. When delivered effectively, individual donors can potentially become major gift sponsors.

Most nonprofit contributions come from individual donors who feel motivated by a particular mission. But, no matter how much they donate, they create the best source of revenue for your organization.

When asking for in-person donations, see the steps below:

  • Conduct thorough research of your prospective donors.
  • Determine your existing relationship, whether they’re a former donor or a referral from somebody you know.
  • Build a genuine connection. Allow your potential donors to express their interests and concerns so that you can meet financial expectations halfway.
  • Internalize and practice your donation message before pitching your mission. You don’t need to memorize it, but reviewing your pitch with your colleagues can alleviate any fear.
  • Ask if you can schedule a formal meeting if applicable. Or use other communication methods like virtual or phone meetings.
  • Be prepared for any donation asks rejections. However, turndowns can be an excellent opportunity to evaluate how you ask for donor contributions.

Requesting donations in person can be daunting for those who have never done it before. However, it can build a trusting relationship between nonprofit professionals and potential donors.

Sample script when asking for donations for nonprofit fundraising:

Sam, I would like to talk to you about (Your nonprofit name). Our organization is aiding child hunger one meal at a time. You have the solution to help students in (Name of school) end hunger in the classroom. You can give them a healthy meal for a small amount of (donation amount).

Using the word “you” is one of the most powerful ways to engage donors. You make them feel like they’re a part of a greater solution because, without them, your organization ceases to continue.

How to ask for donations by phone call

Asking for donations over the phone is a tried and tested fundraising tactic. In fact, it’s one of the most cost-effective strategies you can use anytime throughout the year.

While it’s tempting to outsource to a telemarketing company, you can free phonathon software to reduce your expenses. So, if your nonprofit doesn’t have the resources to do a door-to-door campaign or make an official website, using phone calls to ask for donations can be a great solution.

Make your call personal with these tips below:

  • Always confirm your caller to ensure you’re calling the correct donor.
  • Explain your role within the organization so they know who you are.
  • Tailor each call to your prospects to personalize your approach.
  • Give them an overview of your mission and offer a few solutions.
  • Prepare a script but refrain from reading.

Remember to keep the conversation flowing both ways, and don’t forget to thank your prospective donors for their time to hear your thoughts.

Donation messages example:

We appreciate our partnership in the past and continue our gratitude for your ongoing support. Typhoons displace thousands yearly due to storm surges and poor living conditions. (Your nonprofit name)’s mission is to provide food, water, first aid, and light source to affected areas. We want to partner with you to support the people of (Location name). For just (gift amount), you can restore hope to the local community.

When soliciting donations, using the word “donate” may turn off some potential donors. It gives an impression that you only want their money. Instead, use the words “partner,” “collaborate,” or “support” to increase the likelihood of your prospect becoming a major donor.

How to ask for donations by text

Texting about your donation appeal is a great strategy to raise more money for your nonprofit organization. Because prospective donors have a higher chance to open your message, it’s an easy way to promote your crowdfunding campaigns.

Here are some tips on asking texting your donation ask:

  • Write a short and specific donation request since text messages can’t hold more than 160 characters.
  • Give a sense of urgency because it has a potent diving force that encourages donors to take action.
  • Send your donation asks during an optimal time. Considering the time difference is essential if you send your donation request to varying time zones. Some people don’t want to receive a message during odd hours.
  • Since you have a short space to explain your campaign, you can direct your potential donor to your donation page.
  • Do more than tell your donors that you’re raising money. You can also use this multi-channel fundraising approach to send updates to recurring donors.

How to ask for donations by email

Emails are one of the popular online fundraising methods nonprofits use to ask for donations. However, make it a norm to send at least (2) donation appeals and (3) newsletters rather than sending a list of updates and invitations in one email. Doing so can make it less overwhelming for donors to read.

Go over these best practices to send a donation request email:

  • Make your subject lines eye-catching rather than writing vague ones so the recipient won’t delete your donation email. For example, “Do something amazing with your $5! Today”
  • Be direct, and don’t wait to ask for your request or invitation. While in-person appeals have a slow nurturing strategy, fundraising emails are the opposite.
  • Thoroughly describe your organization’s mission to new donors and explain why you’re trying to raise money.
  • While it’s easy to copy-paste your donation message, keep it personal instead.
  • Don’t forget to provide a link to your donation form. Including your donation forms makes it easy for donors to send their contributions.
  • Always give gratitude and remember to follow up with your prospects. 

Nonprofits lose about $14,000 annually because their emails end up in spam folders. To avoid this from happening to your donation appeal, proofread your emails. Grammar errors are red flags to spam filters, so always check for corrections or use online writing software to help you with your writing.

How to ask for donations via social media

A new effective way of asking for donations is through social media due to its visually stimulating appeal. You can use multiple platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, and many more. Since most people use social media during their downtime, nonprofit organizations find this method of communication more inspiring.

To kick start your fundraising campaigns, here are some steps in creating your peer-to-peer fundraising on social media:

  • Build a strong online presence by creating an effective nonprofit brand. Invite your friends and family members to share your profile so their network will be aware of your organization.
  • Consistently post engaging content around your nonprofit mission. Include videos, images, and charitable giving challenges to keep a fun engagement among your supporters.
  • Streamline the online donation process by linking your donation page to every post.
  • Connect with your followers by responding to their comments.
  • Keep track of your social media insights to analyze which posts are more effective.

Social media is one of the best ways to collect data for your nonprofit business plan. Aside from gaining a worldwide audience, you can take advantage of its analytics tool to help you reach your fundraising goals.

How to ask for donations by letter

Donation letters are most effective for formal fundraising campaigns for companies, businesses, and other foundations. However, you can still use letters to reach the donors like the silent generation and baby boomers. While the younger donors prefer online newsletters, older donors may not know how to maneuver through the digital space.

Use these pointers on how to ask for donations using letters. 

  • No matter who you send the donation request letter to, make it a habit to know their names. Addressing your letter to the right person has a higher success rate of getting the person on board to help you raise money, especially for local businesses.
  • Always introduce yourself when sending out donation letters to your local community. Give them a good idea of who you are and why you’re doing charitable giving.
  • It doesn’t matter who you’re mailing your donation appeals to; always make it personal.
  • When mailing to corporations or local businesses, make your letter more about them than the money. Offer to schedule a meeting to talk about different donation methods like matching gifts, volunteer grants, and other support initiatives.
  • Use bold text when highlighting important details, so donors don’t miss out on specific information.

Mailing your donation letters after establishing your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign will let businesses know you already have a set plan.

Tips on asking for donations for nonprofits

Before asking for donations

  • Stick with the donation a cohesive donation process. If you have new members in the team, conduct training before the start of your campaign to ensure that you have a unified asking strategy.
  • Ask your staff, volunteers, and existing donors if they want to donate. Then, move outwards to their network for possible donor collaboration.
  • Research about your donors. Varying donor demographics have different ways of going about supporting a cause. For example, millennial and gen z donors are most inspired to donate through social media, while boomers prefer email.

While asking for donations

  • Donors want to support a charitable organization that resonates with them. Thus, stay genuine and authentic even if you go through rejections.
  • Prepare yourself for negative and zero responses because not everyone is ready to support a cause.
  • Explain what their donation can accomplish and the purpose of your fundraising project.

After asking for donations

  • Always let your prospects know that you’re grateful that they allowed you to speak up about your mission, whether they will support you or not.
  • Send them updates about their contributions. Include pictures, stories, or videos in your newsletters.
  • Offer opportunities for future engagement like fundraising events other than the donation appeal.


There are many ways to ask for donations for your nonprofit business. However, not every crowdsourcing strategy applies to all nonprofit management. Therefore, planning your donation contributions at the beginning of the year is essential to ensure you meet your fundraising goals.

Although sending your donation appeals to individuals, businesses, and other foundations require varying funding request methods. However, few things always stay the same:

  • Keep it personal.
  • Use impactful words.
  • Write your mission as simple as possible.
  • Make it easy for donors to support your cause.
  • Accept possible declines.
  • Always send your deepest appreciation and gratitude.

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