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Holding a special event is a great way for an organization to generate fundraising proceeds, engage new and previous donors, and build awareness for their cause. Including a silent auction can take your special event to the next level, but it requires your nonprofit to solicit awesome items for guests to bid on.
Securing auction items may seem a little daunting – but have no fear. We’ve put together tips and best practices for the perfect silent auction donation request letters to send to corporate sponsors and individual donors.
The less money you have to spend on bringing in great items, the greater the return on investment will be for your auction. And that equals more money to power your mission.
Donation request letters are essential for building your auction. The letters are the first introduction to individuals and businesses that you’re having an event, need silent auction items, and what recognition and visibility is included for auction donors. So, make it count!
To help you start the process of writing a silent auction donation request letter, we’ll cover:
Let’s get started!
Though many different types of organizations send out donation request letters, there are core elements to writing a great letter. Follow these nine steps to create a silent auction donation request letter that will surely have items rolling in in no time!
The first step in writing a donation request letter is ensuring that it gets to the right person. Do your due diligence up front to make sure your request reaches a person with decision making power. Take time to make inquiry phone calls or perform Google searches. It’s essential that your request gets into the right hands.
Finding the right person to address your donation request letter to will require a little more research upfront, but the reward will follow.
To begin your silent auction donation request letter, first introduce yourself and acknowledge the relationship your organization has with the recipient. For example: “You have played a huge role in the success of our organization for years. We can’t thank you enough for supporting us as a frequent donor and volunteer.”
If you don’t have the capacity to personalize each letter, you can segment your donors based on how you’ve interacted with them in the past:
We aren’t saying you should write a novel about your organization or your event. Just remember that. as a nonprofit, you have one of the most impactful stories there is. Use your mission, impact, and history as the hook that connects your reader to your nonprofit and makes them feel compelled to give.
Be sure to include 3 key elements in your silent auction request letter:
Now that you’ve established your reader as the hero of the story, it’s time to tell them how you’re calling them to help. Don’t assume they know what you’re looking for. Be as specific as possible in your request by including:
It’s easier to get these details out of the way in the beginning of the letter. Take some of the work off of the donor and give them specific examples when possible.
After clearly stating what you’re asking for from your donors, it’s time to introduce the “why.” Include the impact that your reader can make and how it will benefit them by outlining:
Including the “why” behind your request often distinguishes your request from others and builds a connection between your potential donor and your cause.
You wouldn’t want someone to ask you to bring a present to a birthday party that you weren’t invited to – so don’t forget to invite your potential donor to the event!
In your donation request letter, include:
Always, always, always be sure to thank auctions item donors. It’s such an important element of a donation request and sometimes overlooked in the craziness of auction prep. Be sure to:
Included with your letter should be a silent auction item donation form to get additional and specific information about the item they’re donating. This information will be important for creating online item descriptions or bid sheets.
Item donation forms should include:
Now that you’ve walked through the process of writing a silent auction donation request letter, be sure to follow a few additional guidelines:
Remember, these letters are essential for building and growing relationships with your donors. You are asking your reader for a significant donation on behalf of your cause, so make sure it motivates them to act. Here’s a donation request letter template to help you get started:
Dear Mr./Mrs. [Donor’s Name],
My name is [name] and I am in the [position] for [organization’s name]. Our team works hard to support and bring awareness to [organization’s cause]. I am so [grateful for the role you’ve played in pushing our mission forward/grateful for the opportunity to get you involved].
In the last year alone [statistic about the need that your organization addresses]. Ever since [year of founding], our team has been [hosting events, raising money] to help [specific positive impact of your organization].
Our team is planning [something new/a fantastic event], so get excited. By [date], we are launching [upcoming project or event] that will bring [impact of event] to our community. In order to make this event a true triumph, we want to ask for your help.
As a [business leader/community leader], you know how costly large initiatives like ours can be. With your connections, resources, and incredible history of charity work, I know that together we can make a huge difference.
Would you be willing to donate [specific item, service, or experience donation] to help our cause? To show how much we appreciate your support, we’d be happy to provide [incentive].
[Organization name] would also love to have you at the event! Registration can be found here [link to register] or you can reach out to me by phone or email. Attached is silent auction donation form for you to review.
I would be happy to provide you with more information about how you can support our work at [organization’s name]. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at [phone number/email].
Hope to talk soon, [Name]