How to Ask for Donations
Ask Your Family Members and Friends
Ask Companies and Businesses
Ask Foundations and the Government
Raise Money For Projects, Events, and Causes
How to ask for donations

How to Ask for Donations: A Guide for Individuals Who Are Raising Money

Step 1: Determine What Kind of Donations You Need

Monetary Donations

Most people think of monetary donations when they think of fundraising. If you’re trying to support a cause, complete a project, or help a loved one, you likely need to raise money to do so.

In-Kind Donations

In-kind donations are contributions of products or services. They can range from donated food for an event to equipment or supplies for a building project. Normally, companies make in-kind donations.

Volunteer Time

You can also ask people to donate their time to your cause, effort, or project. Whether you need help setting up an event, completing a large task, or building a structure, you can ask your community to help!

Step 2: Decide Who You Are Going to Ask

Asking Friends, Family Members, and Peers for Donations

Benefits

 Inherent Trust
Your friends, family members, and coworkers all trust and care for you. Many organizations struggle with fundraising, because they don’t have any common ground with their donors. When you ask for donations from your friends and family members, you won’t have that problem!

 Instant Access
You likely live in the same area as most of your friends and family members. You might see some of them every day! It’s easy to ask for donations from people that are close to you. Even if your peers don’t live in the immediate vicinity, you can likely get in touch with them quickly and easily.

 Shared Values
You and your friends and family members might not agree on everything, but when it comes to raising money for a noble cause, worthwhile project, or meaningful event, you’re all probably on the same page. These shared values makes it easy to ask for donations from your peers.

Best Practices

  • Be Sincere and Truthful

    This should go without saying, but you should always be upfront and honest when asking your friends or family members for donations. Let them know what the funds will be going toward and why you’re asking for their help.

  • Be Ready for a "No"

    Not everyone is going to be willing or able to support your fundraising efforts, and that’s okay! Just make sure that you prepare yourself for answers other than “Yes!” when you start asking for donations.

  • Ask the Right People

    If you’re raising money for a potentially controversial cause or project, it would be wise to avoid asking people whose opinions might clash with yours. You don’t want to risk friendships over fundraising!

Asking Businesses and Companies for Donations

Benefits

 Large Fundraising Potential
Many companies have departments that are in charge of corporate social responsibility (CSR). These divisions are in charge of donating the CSR budget to worthy causes. While a company might not help you pay for a personal project, they are usually willing to give to charitable events and projects.

 Variety of Donations
Companies don’t just distribute money to worthy causes. They also donate in-kind products and services that can help your fundraising efforts. For example, if you’re raising money to finance a new building for your school, a company might donate some of the equipment or labor in an effort to help.

 Repeated Contributions
If you can form a strong connection with a corporate partner, you can sometimes guarantee future donations for future projects. If there is a local business that you have a strong rapport with, they could end up becoming a supporter for a long time!

Best Practices

  • Talk to the Right Person

    The new office intern probably isn’t going to have the information you need if you’re asking a company for donations. Try to find whoever’s in charge of CSR or get in touch with someone in a managerial position.

  • Know Exactly What You’re Asking For

    Go into your meeting with a manager, CSR director, or business owner with a detailed list of what your fundraising needs are. If you ask for a general contribution with no specific number or object in mind, you’ll walk away with nothing.

  • Ask the Appropriate Companies

    Look for companies that share your philanthropic values. You’ll be able to more readily connect to whoever you’re meeting with, and they’ll be far more likely to contribute to your cause, project, or event.

Asking Foundations and the Government for Donations

Benefits

Considerable Funding Potential
While most foundations don’t pass out grants to individuals, there are some institutions that make grants for very specific creative or entrepreneurial projects. If you fit the bill, apply, and receive the grant, it’s often for a large sum of money. The same principle goes for governmental funds.

Built-In Spending Guidelines
Most grants made by foundations or the government have strict guidelines for how the money must be spent. While this might seem restrictive, it’s actually a great way to hold yourself accountable if you are eligible and apply for a grant worth a significant amount of money.

Best Practices

  • Do Your Research

    Applying for foundation or government grants requires effort and research. You have to find a grant for individuals that lines up with your particular fundraising need. The most successful fundraisers start their research early and often!

  • Follow All Directions

    If a grant application has very specific instructions, follow them. Failure to follow the guidelines could result in your immediate rejection for the grant application.

Step 3: Select the Right Way to Ask for Donations

How to Ask for Donations with Crowdfunding

What is It?

Crowdfunding is one of the easiest ways for individuals to ask for donations. Crowdfunding is a fundraising method that enables individuals to set up customized and personal fundraising pages and share them with their networks via social media and email.

You’ve likely seen a few crowdfunding campaigns float through your Facebook and Twitter feeds and wondered, “Do those actually work?”

Yes, they do! Crowdfunding campaigns have successfully helped innumerable people raise money for projects, causes, life events, and charitable efforts.

Why Does it Work?

Crowdfunding works because of the power of social sharing and because of people’s desires to help their friends and family members. When someone shares a crowdfunding campaign on social media or via email, they are essentially asking their entire friend list for a donation.

In the past, it would’ve taken days or even weeks to ask every single person you know for a contribution to your fundraising campaign.

But with crowdfunding, the fundraising process takes mere minutes. People can access your fundraising page instantly and give to your campaign in seconds.

Tips

When starting a crowdfunding campaign, it’s important to keep these three things in mind:

1. Upload photos and videos: Media helps people connect to your cause or project. When they see what their donations are going toward, they are far more likely to contribute.
2. Tell your story: Tell donors why they should give to your crowdfunding campaign. Funny or emotional anecdotes can be an easy way to show donors why your campaign matters and why they should donate.
3. Post regular updates: Don’t leave your donors behind! Keep them posted on your fundraising progress and acknowledge their previous contributions to show them that you care.

How to Ask for Donations at Fundraising Events

What Are They?

A fundraising event can be a small-scale, at-home event with your closest friends, or it could be a community-wide event. The size is truly up to you and your fundraising needs.

There are tons of different fundraising ideas. Some of them are simple (i.e., a 50/50 raffle) while others will take months and months to plan (i.e., a charity auction).

Fundraising events can supplement your fundraising efforts or can be stand-alone donation appeals.

Why Do They Work?

Fundraising events, when executed correctly, can be excellent opportunities to raise money and explain your cause to your event attendees at the same time.

When you have everyone together in one spot, it’s a lot easier to explain your reasons for fundraising and answer any questions that your supporters might have.

In-person interaction and appeals can also make potential donors feel more personally invested in your cause.

Tips

When planning a fundraising event, keep these two tips in mind:

1. Plan ahead: Fundraising events can turn into logistical nightmares if you aren’t careful. Make sure that you plan out every detail and stick to your budget and timeline.
2. Ask for help: Most fundraising events cannot be planned alone. Don’t be afraid to form a “committee” of your friends and family members to help you throughout the planning and execution phases.

How to Ask for Donations with Letters

What Are They?

Fundraising letters are a common way to ask for donations from companies or individuals who live farther away.

They are usually 1-2 pages, formal in nature, and detail the exact need that the fundraiser is asking for.

Sending out fundraising letters is a more traditional form of fundraising, but letters can be an effective way to spell out your need and speak directly to the person you’re asking for donations from.

Why Do They Work?

Letters work because they allow you to detail your cause or need and ask for something specific.

They also lend a certain formality to your fundraising ask, a crucial component for asking companies for donations.

Additionally, letters enable your donors to think about your fundraising ask. They don’t feel put on the spot like they would during an in-person ask, allowing them to give more consideration to your appeal.

Tips

When writing fundraising letters, remember these two tips:

1. Don’t be too formal: Yes, a fundraising letter is one of the more serious fundraising methods, but that doesn’t mean that your letter should be indecipherable. Keep the letter professional and accessible.
2. Get to the point: Introduce yourself and your reasons for fundraising, but don’t feel obligated to give your entire backstory. A fundraising letter should be no more than two pages. Don’t waste half of your space on fluff!

Step 4: Thank Your Supporters

The Importance of Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements are crucial for any fundraising effort, big or small. People like to feel like their donations didn’t just disappear into the ether.

By acknowledging donors promptly and genuinely, you show that you appreciate them, not just their contributions to your fundraising efforts.

Acknowledging donors also shows other supporters that you care about the people that contribute to your campaign. This could in turn lead to more donations down the road!

How to Thank Supporters

There are a few ways to let donors know that you appreciate their contributions:

1. Send out cards or letters: An old-fashioned thank-you card can go a long way. You should send cards within a week of receiving a donation.
2. Use social mediaIf you’re Facebook friends with your donors or follow them on Twitter, post your thank-you on social media to let everyone know how much you appreciate their donation.
3. Write emails: For a more personalized approach, send out emails to each of your donors. It’s like writing thank-you cards but without the cost of a stamp or envelope!

Additional Resources

Learn more about peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Participating in a peer-to-peer campaign? Knowing how to ask for donations is a key part of fundraising because you need to be prepared to solicit donations from your friends and family members.

If you want to learn more about peer-to-peer fundraising, we have a guide that’s full of tips and valuable resources to help you get started. 

Crowdfunding

Now that you know how to ask for donations, it’s time to start fundraising for your cause, project, or event. Crowdfunding is a great option because it’s quick and easy to set up.

Learn more about the ins and outs of crowdfunding with our complete guide! You’ll have everything you need to get started. 

Check out 5 fundraising letter templates to ask your supporters for donations.

Fundraising Letters

A common way to ask for gifts is through fundraising letters. Whether you’re sending direct mail or emails, it’s important to write a professional and concise letter.

Get 5 fundraising letter templates to help you solicit donations from family members, friends, and coworkers. 

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