When it comes to fundraising, a good place to start is at the very beginning—and that means knowing how to ask for donations. Donations are what makes the nonprofit world go round, raising awareness and funds for your cause and letting you make a bigger impact. Maybe you’re a fundraising expert who’s planned swoon-worthy black-tie galas start to finish, or perhaps you have grand fundraising aspirations but have only dabbled in the fine art of Kickstarter campaigns. Either way, we can help you take things up a notch as we dive into the nitty-gritty details of asking for a donation. Buckle up; it’s gonna be a wild (and highly effective) ride.
The basics of how to ask for donations
There are many ways to ask for donations, depending on which channel you’re using, who you’re asking, when you’re asking, and whether Mercury is in retrograde. But there are also some basic steps to keep in mind to ease the asking for donations journey. If you want to get on the donation bandwagon but don’t know where to begin, here’s a high-level, step-by-step overview of how to ask for a donation.
1. Decide who to ask.
There are current donors and prospective donors. There are first-time donors and one-time donors and major donors and minor donors. Before you do anything else, figure out who you want to ask. For a new nonprofit, that will be “everyone we’ve ever blinked at.” For an established one, it will be an audience segment. (And if you haven’t segmented out your donors yet, now’s a good time to get on that.)
2. Decide how to ask.
Multi-channel fundraising is the best, so as a jumping-off point, decide how you’re going to coordinate your asks across channels and where you’re going to focus your efforts. Keeping your audience in mind, choose your channel(s)—whether it’s email, phone, text, social media, or carrier pigeon.
3. Tell your story.
The most successful donation requests are authentic. Ground every request in your nonprofit’s unique story, letting would-be donors know how they can play a vital role in it. If you can include real-life photos, it’ll up the impact.
4. Tailor your message.
Connect with your donors by customizing and personalizing your message. Nothing makes folks click “delete” faster than an email that starts with, “Hey, you!” or asks them to give when they gave one week ago. The more you can speak to each donor as a person instead of a number, the more likely they are to make a donation.
5. Make the ask.
Don’t bury your donation ask. People are short on time; they skim and get distracted. Be specific, be gracious, and highlight why you’re asking and what it will accomplish.
6. Make it easy.
You’ve made the ask—don’t make people search for a “donate” button. Ensure your donation process takes as little time, and as few clicks, as possible. Send them straight to your donation page, which should be informative, intuitive, and branded.
7. Say thank you.
You did it! But the work’s not over. Assuming your donation request was impossible to resist, you've now got some donations on your hands. Be sure to say “thank you” within 48 hours (24 is even better, but hey, we’ve all got things to do) so your new friends feel appreciated right away. It can be a thank-you email or a thank-you phone call—the important part is the thanks.
8. Stay in touch.
Now that you have some donors, keep the relationships going and the donations coming. Follow up by updating them on your nonprofit’s work, offering other ways to get involved, and, of course, saying thank you a few more times.
Asking for donations wording: what language to use
Nonprofit fundraising is an art, and if you want to keep the funds flowing, your words matter. Here’s what to say when asking for donations: Be clear, succinct, and authentic. Use “you,” say “thanks,” and be specific. Keep in mind who you’re asking and how you’re asking.
While we can’t write your fundraising email for you, we can provide some additional guidance on how to work some fundraising magic. The fact is that your words have an impact on your outcomes. Read on for our tips on the right wording to ask for donations. Then, it’s off to the typographical races!
1. Make it urgent.
Giving now is better than giving later, so make sure your language reflects that. By creating a sense of urgency, potential donors won’t put off their donations. Use words like “now” and “today,” and then explain why giving immediately is so important.
2. Be clear and direct.
No, we’re not suggesting that you send an email with the subject line, “Money, please!” But it’s important to be clear about why you’re asking donors to open their hearts and wallets as well as how they can help. Have a CTA right smack in the middle of that fundraising email; include a pre-stamped envelope with that direct mail appeal.
3. Craft a great subject line.
How many emails do you get each day? Yeah, us, too. To stand out from the crowd and ensure folks actually read your perfectly crafted missive, your subject line needs to sparkle. Keep it short, direct, and clear. If you can be creative, go for it. And please, for the love of all that is English class, don’t use all caps or more than one exclamation point.
4. Keep it optimistic.
You’re doing hard work, but if there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, no one will want to pitch in. Donors need to know that there’s hope, so even in the darkest of times, highlight your organization's mission and be that shining light.
5. Say thank you in advance.
Gratitude is where it’s at when it comes to asking for a donation. Even if someone hasn’t given, be grateful that they’re reading your email and considering a gift. No one wants to feel that they’re being taken for granted.
6. Use "you" in your asking for a donation wording.
If you’re telling a story about your nonprofit, then you want your donors to be the heroes. Put them at the center of the action by using “you” a lot. One note: We love community-centric fundraising, so be sure to balance the “you” with some “we.” When people give back, we all benefit.
7. Use action verbs.
Just like using “you,” using action verbs lets your donors be more than bystanders tossing change at the problem. Sure, they can “donate,” but they can also “fight for the cause,” “solve the problem,” and “make an impact.”
8. Follow the numbers.
Every fundraising strategy worth its salt (what a weird expression) knows that numbers equal impact, so incorporate some data into your donation requests. How many baby chinchillas will that $100 donation help? Whoa, that’s a lot. I know where my tax return’s going.
Asking for donations wording sample
Dear [Donor Name], Today, I’m writing to ask you to support [cause]. By donating just [amount], you can [specific impact]. To donate, [specific action]. Thank you for joining [cause’s] efforts during this [adjective] time—It's supporters like you that help us change the world every day.
Okay, we probably could have supplied that last adjective for you, but it’s a bit more fun when you think of it like Mad Libs, right? Now that we’ve provided a bare-bones template for asking for donations, here’s an example with a bit more tofu on the bones. (Some of us are vegetarians here.) We’ve included more generic wording to spark inspiration; remember to dig into the details and craft donation requests that speak to your donor base.
Every week, [creative fact about your cause]. But you can change that. At [nonprofit], we [what you do]. And today, I’m writing to ask you to be a part of that.
A gift of only [amount] will [specific impact and time period]. Just click the button below to make a difference in minutes.
When you partner with [nonprofit], you effect change in our community and ensure our success in the future. [Personalize the ask as much as possible.] Thank you for caring; thank you for supporting [clients]!
At Funraise, we encourage you to get creative and have fun with your communications, so don’t be scared to step outside the box. After all, you want to keep things to the point but make a big impression. Of course, a donation request email will be different from a text will be different from a social media post, and asking an individual is very different from asking a business. Now, we’ll get into those details.
Asking for donations by text guide
We’re going to be straight with you: Soliciting donations by text is a great idea. With a 95% open rate and a 160-character limit, text-to-give is super effective and requires less of your time. Get creative with your text engagement with our text-cellent tips and tricks below.
1. Have a reason to write.
Because texts are so short, make sure your donation ask is specific (and also compelling and witty, of course). Show donors that you have a rock-solid reason for making them take their precious mobile device out of their pocket. Maybe it’s your annual appeal or maybe it’s a very special project.
2. Not too much, not too little.
No one likes getting out of a movie to find 20 increasingly frantic texts in a row from the same person. (“Joel, were you kidnapped? Pls write back.”) Strike a balance between over- and under-asking by communicating regularly and balancing urgency and information.
3. Do more than ask.
Yes, you’re looking for donations, but all donations are built on donor relationships. Don’t only write to ask for money or your texts will soon be blocked. Send success stories to give supporters warm-and-fuzzy feelings. Let them know if you’re holding a fun event. And, of course, pipe up if their credit card is expiring.
4. Know your voice.
Just because a text is short doesn’t mean your words matter less. In fact, each word matters more when you have to be brief. Keep your audience in mind and don’t be overly pushy or overly casual. You know your nonprofit organization and you know your donors, so you do you.
5. Keep it short.
Don’t let your text asks spill into five different messages, popping up one after the other. If you write 160 characters or less, it’s way more likely your donation ask will actually be read. And that means it’s fine to send details separately. Feel free to follow up with an email donation appeal that provides additional information.
6. Get the timing right.
In addition to not sending a text message every day, show respect for people’s sleep patterns, vacation schedules, and time zones. Not everyone remembers to turn on “do not disturb,” and no one wants to be woken up at 5:00 am with a text message asking for money.
How to ask for donations on social media
To get donations on social media, post regularly, use real images, and add relevant hashtags. For direct asks, link to your campaign site and add a donation button. Birthday fundraisers are popular. And don’t just ask for money—use social media to update, inform, and engage your supporters.
Many of us have a love-hate relationship with social media. We love the kittens in tutus and the renovated kitchens; we hate the FOMO and the constant barrage of information (and misinformation). But the siren call of social media platforms always lures us back, and that’s why you need to know how to ask for donations online. Next, we’ll cover how to write social media donation posts for all your favorite channels.
How to ask for donations on Facebook
If you’re asking for donations on Facebook, you can link to your donation page through a post, ask your supporters to hold Facebook Fundraisers, or encourage direct donations on your nonprofit’s Facebook page. All of these options make it easy for donors to give to your cause in one click.
Because Facebook offers options aplenty when it comes to online fundraising, you can pick and choose based on your specific needs. Below, we’ll show you how to Facebook fundraise your face off.
1. Ask for donations on your page.
Facebook lets registered nonprofits add a direct donation link to their page. A shiny donate button appears right in your header, so that supporters can click to donate any time the urge strikes.
2. Try some peer-to-peer fundraising.
Social media is all about community (and ads for same-day cookie delivery. Wait, is that just us?), so tap into said community by having supporters collect donations on your behalf. They can post birthday or anniversary fundraisers to their profiles, share it with friends and family members, and even pledge to match every dollar raised.
3. Link to individual campaign pages in posts.
You can also add a donate button to any post as a subtle (or not-so-subtle) nudge. For example, if you’re running a big campaign and providing periodic updates on progress toward your fundraising goal, a donate button on each post just might put you over the edge.
4. Do a live video.
Facebook Live lets you connect with your supporters by showing them your beautiful face in real time. You can ask for a donation, and you can even add a donate button!
5. Make a stand-alone fundraising page.
In addition to your nonprofit organization's Facebook page, you can create a dedicated fundraising page to meet a specific fundraising goal.
How to ask for donations on Instagram
If you’re asking for donations on Instagram, you can add a button to your profile, post on Instagram stories, or go live with your donation request. You can also get your community involved by having them start an Instagram fundraiser for your cause as a post or 24-hour story.
Instagram is Facebook’s sleeker, cooler cousin, and more and more users are switching their social media allegiance these days. (Yeah, we know they’re all Meta now). If you want to make some Insta-solicitations, try the fundraising tools below.
1. Get support on your profile.
Get insta(nt) support by adding a button to support your cause to your Instagram profile. With one click, supporters can send you a direct online donation.
2. Encourage your followers to fundraise for you.
Instagram makes it super easy to create fundraisers in support of a good cause. Users can start a fundraiser from their own profile or from any nonprofit’s verified Instagram page. But a lot of folks don’t know these easy options exist! Your mission, should you choose to accept it: spread the word.
3. Ask for donations with Instagram stories.
Instagram stories last 24 hours, providing a perfect opportunity to run a 24-hour campaign. Your super-generous supporters can also post stories in support of your organization.
4. Make a live donation request.
Take your fundraising show on the road with a live donation drive. Be sure to build momentum through regular stories and posts, then start a live video for some face-to-face fundraising (or selfie-to-selfie fundraising) fun.
How to ask for donations on the metaverse
If you’re a nonprofit plugged into the metaverse, you’re ahead of the fundraising curve. In the future, you’ll be able to hold virtual events and advertise on virtual billboards. For now, stay on top of new developments, form relationships, and help shape a more inclusive and altruistic cyber-world.
And if you’re not so sure about this whole metaverse thing (and wondering if it’s actually the matrix)? We get it, and we’re definitely not the experts. But a lot of folks think it’s the next frontier of cyberspace—and that means nonprofits should get in early. The metaverse is made up of multiple digital worlds and is an amalgamation of all sorts of techy treats, from VR and AR to NFTs and crypto. It’s kinda an amorphous blob right now, but in a way, that’s exciting. The future is now, fundraisers, so get those avatars ready and make it great.
1. Start learning.
When you research nonprofits and the metaverse, there’s not a heck of a lot there. But these are the earliest of days, friend. If you’re wondering how to ask for a donation in the metaverse, start by getting to know it. If you can’t afford the hardware, don’t sweat it. Read some articles and watch some YouTube videos.
2. Keep learning.
Once you’ve grasped the meta-basics, keep going. Stay on top of new developments so you can jump on any opportunities that present themselves.
3. Make the metaverse better.
We all know that the internet can be kinda-sorta toxic, and there are already hints of sexism, racism, xenophobia, and all that incredibly unpleasant jazz on the metaverse. But it’s still in its nascency, so you have the chance to actually have an impact and change it! Advocate, infiltrate, and fight the good fight so that this next iteration of the internet is more equitable, kinder, and better.
4. Consider the possibilities.
With augmented reality (AR), you can give supporters around the world a live tour of the school they’ve helped fund. Would-be fur-parents can “hold” their new dog. You can get cryptocurrency donations and hold an NFT auction as a fundraising event. The metaverse holds a myriad of possibilities—for now, keep your eyes open, and explore this new space.
How to ask for donations for a fundraiser
Spoiler alert: At Funraise, we’re all about fundraisers. A fundraiser is the perfect way to tap into your devoted donor base and raise money for your cause. If you're wondering how to ask for donations for a fundraiser, here's the answer: there’s no one way to ask for donations! So peruse some fundraising ideas and fundraising events (Funraise has got plenty!) and choose a few that click with your cause, availability, and budget. Let’s review the basics.
1. Ask across channels.
Maximize your reach by asking for donations across multiple channels, including social media platforms, fundraising letters, fundraising emails, text engagement, and phone calls. When it comes to fundraisers, the more, the merrier.
2. Be clear on the why.
Your fundraiser messaging needs to highlight why you’re holding this fundraising campaign. Why now? Who are the beneficiaries? What will be the impact of donors’ dollars? Tell a compelling story, clearly and authentically.
3. Create some urgency.
No fundraiser lasts forever, so let your supporters know why they need to donate to your fundraising campaign stat. Everyone has a lot on their plate these days, so a little procrastination can lead to a lot of lost revenue.
4. Make it easy to give.
Giving to a fundraiser should be as easy as possible. Your donate button should be prominently displayed, and your donation form should take less than a minute to fill out. It should be a snap to sign up for a recurring gift. And if you’re having a fundraising event, you should have mobile readers to take credit cards—and IT support in case something’s not working.
5. Follow up after.
Your fundraiser is over, but your work isn’t. Once a fundraiser ends, you have the opportunity to turn new donors into recurring donors and dedicated supporters. Send an update, say thank you, and stay in touch. That fundraiser could be just the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
How to ask for donations from businesses
Asking for donations from businesses is different from approaching individual donors. First, decide if you’re asking local businesses or larger corporations. Find a point of contact, fill out any necessary forms, and make your case. Then, let your appreciation be known, and remember to follow up.
Here’s the thing: Whether they’re shining their image or genuinely generous, a lot of companies have a lot of moolah to give to nonprofit organizations. So, if you can partner with a business or five on your fundraising initiatives, you can develop a delightfully symbiotic relationship that can last for many years.
But as we said, companies are not people, so it stands to reason that your nonprofit needs a different approach when it comes to asking businesses for donations. Every business has its own processes, so you’ll need to do your own research beforehand. In the meantime, here’s our HR-approved advice on how to ask for donations from businesses. (Disclaimer: we didn’t actually talk to HR.)
1. Determine which companies you're asking.
Big businesses have big dollars—and that means you’ll be facing big competition. Instead of asking Tesla for a donation, try connecting with local businesses. You’re all a part of the same community, so you already share a common goal: making it better. That being said, times have been tough lately. Be open to volunteering instead of direct donations, and if you do decide to turn to the big guys, get ready to fill out a lot of forms. Which brings us to our next point …
2. Go through the proper channels.
It would be great if asking for donations from businesses was like trick-or-treating, where you knock on every door, say, “Cash or check?” and walk away with a donation. Alas, it’s not that easy. Instead, you’re going to need a contact, and that means doing your research and cultivating relationships with folks in leadership. And until that relationship is rock-solid, remember that your communications should be a bit more formal (note to self: stop talking about llama fashion so much).
With most donations, the donor receives a warm-fuzzy feeling and a thank you in exchange for supporting a good cause. But businesses expect a bit more, often in the form of positive press. They might run a crowdfunding campaign for you and expect a feature in your newsletter, or they might sponsor a fundraising event in exchange for seeing their logo in the program. The key takeaway here is to establish expectations early on so no one is disappointed.
4. Tailor your donation request.
A small local business owner might appreciate an in-person meeting, while a big corporation might prefer a letter and properly filled-out online forms. Tailor your request and your tone to the business, just like you would with individual donors.
5. Stay in touch.
Lapsed donors are a minor tragedy, and lapsed corporate donors are a slightly-more-major one. Cultivate that relationship by staying in touch and letting your business buddy know about upcoming sponsorships, matching-gift opportunities, volunteer days, and more.
How to ask for a donation in an email
Here goes: Write a killer subject line or nothing else matters. Personalize the opening, ask for the donation early, and make the donation experience intuitive and quick. Weave a great story, say thank you in advance, and add some real-life images to bring it all home.
And there you have it! How to ask for a donation via email. Email is an excellent medium for fundraising. You have space, you have time, it’s cost-effective (AKA free), you can include images, and there’s no postage. (But P.S., we love the USPS, so send mail!). If you’re still wondering how to ask for a donation in an email, let us break it down for you.
1. It all starts with the subject line.
We mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: your subject line is your first impression, and you want to make it good. You can write the most exquisitely crafted email ever, but if the subject line is “hi i’m a charity and need $$$$. THX!!!!” it will go forever unread. You better work that subject line, nonprofiteer.
2. Personalize it.
The sharks in Finding Nemo knew that fish are friends, not food; you know that donors are people, not numbers. Personalize your donation emails as much as possible, using names and past donation information (psst, this is where segmenting your donor data makes a difference). BTW, with Funraise you can automate your emails AND personalize them—check and mate!
3. Get right to the point.
Your email ask should be clear, genuine, and succinct, which means you want to ask for that donation early on. Don’t make your readers wade through paragraphs of text, wondering aloud what the heck this email is all about. Let them know exactly why you’re writing and how they can take action to make a difference.
4. Make the giving easy.
Make sure that gorgeous donate button is front and center so that no one has to search for a way to donate. You can also link to your donation page as well as provide a number and address for offline donations—and every one of these giving options should take a mere two seconds to find.
5. Use words and images.
Unlike texts, emails give you the space to tell a story. So, tell a really good one. Highlight your mission, include real photos, and emphasize how your reader can be a part of this meticulously crafted tale—giving it a very happy ending indeed.
Donation messages examples
Now that you’re an expert on how to ask for donations, you’re probably wondering what it actually looks like IRL. As you can imagine, it depends on who you’re asking, how you’re asking, and your nonprofit’s special sauce. When it comes to crafting donation messages, we encourage you to do some finger stretches, have a triple caramel macchiato, and unleash your inner Hemingway. (Scratch that; he’d probably write a terrible donation request.) If you’re still feeling stuck, here are some donation messages examples for inspiration.
Examples of how to ask for donations on social media
When it comes to asking for donations on social media, cover your bases by covering all the major channels. For example, if you craft a great donation ask for Facebook, you can tweak it to work with Instagram (focus on the image) and Twitter (160 characters for the win).
Beyond the big three, use YouTube if you have compelling videos and LinkedIn if your donation request is also kind of a think piece? It could happen. For now, we’ll review the basics with these examples of how to ask for donations on social media.
Facebook: [Include a relevant image—in this case, a desk with a very snazzy orchid on it].
Sean’s desk was looking a little drab during his daily Zoom meetings, so we bought him this brassavola orchid. Isn’t it gorgeous? You can help struggling home-office workers like Sean spiff up their workspaces. If you give today, $10 can buy an orchid for a desk in need. #anorchidaday
Instagram: [Include a relevant video—in this case, a kangaroo named Carla, wearing a hat and jumping up and down].
This is Carla. As you can tell, she is SO excited. If you want all kangaroos to be as happy as Carla, you can give to our annual #jumpbuddies campaign, which provides fashionable hats for kangaroos that need a little more pep in their step.
Twitter: Bagels are more than lumps of gluten—and you can give them a voice. Join Bagel Allies for just $5 a month and fight for #glutenjustice.
TikTok example: [It’s a baby and a koala dancing to synth-pop, and they both yell, “Please give!” in Taylor Swift’s voice at the end. Wait, are we doing this right?]
How to ask for donations online examples
Here are the essentials for asking for donations online: Personalize wherever possible. Tailor your ask to the platform and person. Use images and video. Tell an important story. Connect with the user. Take your donors on a journey beyond giving. And make it simple to donate.
If you’ve got all that, you’re well on your way to successfully asking for donations online. Whether it’s asking on social media, via email blasts, or over a Slack happy hour, the internet is your online oyster, so you should feel free to experiment and explore. To get you started, here’s a basic template with suggested donation wording for returning donors. You can tailor it to your needs.
Thanks to donors like you, we’ve made remarkable progress this year—but we also have a long way to go. [Describe the progress as well as the roadblocks.]
We’ll need your voice and your generosity to continue the fight. By clicking here and giving [donation amount] today, you take action to [donor impact].
We are so grateful for your continued partnership, advocacy, and commitment as we [nonprofit mission]. Thank for all that you do for [client, cause, etc.].
“Please donate” message example
At the heart of every donation request is a “please donate” message. If you want to get right down to it, here’s your starter kit for a genuine, no-frills message.
Right now, we’re facing [current challenge]. We need just [donation amount] more to meet our goal and [impact].
Please donate to [cause] today to ensure we have the strength to [impact]. Just click below and select an amount. Only $5 lets us [small impact].
Thank you for everything you do. We couldn’t do this without you.
All the best,
Donation email example
Once you’ve written an incredibly compelling, convincing, and successful donation request email, you’ll need to write a great thank you email (and send it off quickly). Here’s a donation email example for following up with donors. Remember that personalization is particularly important here!
Thank you so much for your recent donation to [cause’s] vital work. Your generous gift of [donation amount] will be put to use right away, [description of impact of gift].
Each and every day, we work to [description of nonprofit’s work]. You’re a part of all of this, and with your donation, you’re already making a difference.
Thank you for everything you do. If you have an questions or concerns, please reach out at any time at [contact information]. We look forward to partnering in the months, and years, ahead.
All the best,
More donation message ideas
If you don’t already have inspiration overload, we have a few more donation message ideas up our digital sleeve.
Donation message with a quote: Try opening your message with a relevant quote. You can keep it lighthearted with something silly, or you can choose one that really resonates emotionally. For example, LA Family Housing paired real client portraits with quotes for max impact.
Giving Tuesday donation message: If you opt in to Giving Tuesday, you’ll want to craft your donation messages carefully and well in advance. For example, The People Concern’s donation messaging for Giving Tuesday included a week-long countdown with supporter stories and a #5ReasonstoGive hashtag.
Interactive donation message: Get donors involved and invested in your cause by creating an interactive donation experience. For example, charity: water created a quiz for their donation campaign to demonstrate the urgency of their cause.
Final points on how to ask people to donate
While your nonprofit’s main job is fighting hard for your cause, you need to know how to ask people to donate if you’re going to have the funds to make a difference. We encourage you to get out there and ask for donations in as many ways as possible to find what works best for you.
- No matter how great a job your nonprofit is doing, it means nothing without the ability to tell your story. Use words and images to convey your mission, history, and goals to would be donors, and let that story ground all your donation requests.
- When asking for donations, keep your audience in mind at all times. Your audience decides how you ask and when you ask.
- Developing brand voice guidelines is a great way to improve your donation requests. A strong brand presence and voice ensures consistency and authenticity.
- Don’t make every communication a request for funding. You should cultivate relationships by also sending regular updates, event information, volunteer opportunities, and success stories.
- Data and real-life examples will bolster your case. Share the numbers and share your successes to make your requests more relatable.
- Finally, don't take yourself too seriously! No one ask strategy is going to work on everyone, so try 'em all and keep an open mind.
Here are the essentials for asking for donations online: Personalize wherever possible. Tailor your ask to the platform and person. Use images and video. Tell an important story. Connect with the user. Take your donors on a journey beyond giving. And make it simple to donate.