A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing the Most Effective Donation Appeals (For NGOs)

By: Divya Kilikar

Published On: March 26, 2018

Here's a simple guide on how to write an effective donation appeal for NGOs, by using engaging pictures, presenting a strong story pitch and more!

Before we delve into the process of writing a donation appeal for NGOs, let’s ask ourselves; why is it crucial to craft a good donor appeal? We want to make a complete stranger relate to us, we want them to care, we want to make an emotional impact on them and ultimately encourage them to click that donate button. But, in the age of information where individuals receive constant and incessant notifications and emails with lustful offers on food, travel and fashion, it is quite hard to grab the attention of the user towards your cause.

Especially since you are making an ‘ask’ and not offering a ‘giveaway.’ Donation appeals have to be thought of well, evoking a connection and empathy for the audience to convert into a donor.

A great donor appeal is the best way to get a person to believe that their money is worth your cause. We’re eager to help you have the best crowdfunding experience and that’s why we’ve put together this step-by-step guide for donation appeal for NGOs! Have a look: 

Before you get started, make sure you have these three necessities prepared:

1. NGO letter: Know important details such as the work of your NGO, details of the cause, etc.
When you write an NGO donation request letter, know that it’s just not enough to know your cause well, but you also need to be an authority on it. Gather all the information you can about the cause, the work of your organisation, the work of the government, behind-the-scenes of the person/organization using the funds and how they’re using them. Every detail counts, perhaps even the ones you thought were irrelevant.

2. Be visual: Make use of appealing images and videos 
If there isn’t any, take out time to create some. Click some good pictures, or even better, make a video of your organization in action. Visual aid humanizes your story and helps the readers make an emotional connect. It also provides proof of the good work you’ve been doing.

3. Collect Testimonials: They help you build a good name
Nothing compares to hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth. Collect testimonials from the field of the people you’ve impacted and from previous donors as well!

Great! Now that you’ve got all the material you need, let’s get started.

Step 1: Start with setting context! (Use glaring statistics)
Let’s say your NGO works with underprivileged children. Before you talk about your organization, remind your readers of the issue of poverty in India and add real statistics from a World Bank report to help drive the magnitude of the problem.

Example Appeal: Did you know that 270 million people live under the poverty line in India? Children begging on the streets of the most urban Indian cities is a common sight. Many underprivileged communities do not have access to education, shelter, or even a toilet.

Tip: Step 1 and Step 2 can be reversed, according to the specifics of your project and the angle you want to take. While step 1 speaks about the problem at a macro-level, step 2 does the same at a micro-level. Feel free to switch it up and see what works best to tell your individual story!

Step 2: Why do you need these funds?
Give a specific context. For example, you spoke about poverty in India in 
step one. Now talk about your beneficiary. If your NGO is targeted towards malnourished underprivileged children in a particular area, talk about the problems they face and the solution you have come up with to help them.

Tip: Look at your organization like an unaware stranger and talk about it that way rather than talking to someone who knows about you and your work already. Once you make the reader sufficiently aware of the issue, appeal to their conscience without making them feel guilty. 

Example Appeal: Did you know that 270 million people live under the poverty line in India? Children begging on the streets of the most urban Indian cities is a common sight. Many underprivileged communities do not have access to education, shelter, or even a toilet. 

Moreover, 1 in every 2 children in India is malnourished and end up suffering medical issues that are entirely preventable by providing sufficient nutrition. Anganwadi centres and ICDS centres are meant to address the nutritional needs of children suffering from malnutrition but many of these centres do not have resources. ABC Foundation has been striving to save children from malnutrition in villages across Maharashtra. 

Your smallest contribution can help us change the fate of a malnourished child who may suffer mental and physical development disorders without the nutrition he needs!

Step 3: Show proof.
This is one of the most important parts of your appeal. Why should a reader donate his hard-earned money to your organization if he isn’t sure of its authenticity? Relevant documents, pictures, videos, a few paragraphs about what your NGO has achieved in the past, and so on work perfectly to show that the work you are doing is genuine and important. Putting effort into clicking some good pictures and making a simple video will show your dedication and loyalty to your cause. It’s also a great way to personalize your story sets your fundraiser apart!

Tip: Tell human stories. Adding a face and a story behind it will give your fundraiser another dimension. For example, instead of talking about a hundred malnourished children that ABC Foundation helped, pick one child (let’s call her Asha) that you helped and talk about that child’s story from malnourished to healthy. Then mention that ABC has impacted 99 other children like Asha. This humanizes your fundraiser and moves your reader.

Step 4: Talk about your past fundraisers.
Were your previous fundraisers a big hit? Feel free to brag! Your donors want to be convinced you know how to use their money well. Tell them about your previous fundraising experience and how you used the funds, and most importantly, what change did your fundraiser bring about and whose life did it make easier? Readers love happy stories!

Step 5: How are you going to use your funds?
The goal amount of your fundraiser should be meaningful- exactly how and where are you planning to distribute the funds you collect? Provide an elaborate report and be transparent about it – try not to be vague about where you’re spending your reader’s money. This will show your reader that you value his generous donation.


Step 6: End with a call to action.
A call to action is important to display urgency so that you reader clicks the donate button right away after they read the story! You shouldn’t be pushy, but try not to be laid back so that your reader isn’t in the space to think that they can just come back later (if they remember).

Example CTA: We value every share and every rupee. You can help prevent the irreversible effects of malnutrition in underprivileged children today. Donate to a healthier, happier future for a young child!

 Step 7: Consider offering rewards for donations.
For example, for a 5,000 rupee donation, you can do a personal social media shout-out. For a 20,000 rupee donation, you send a personal handmade thank you note.

Tip: Make sure to update your donors. Once your campaign is done, don’t run away with the funds you worked so hard to collect. Remember to come back and post updates so your donors know you care about letting them know how their money is being used.

And there you go!

Still doubtful? We understand that finding the right words and the right tone when you’re asking for money can be tricky! How do you tone your appeal just right? It’s easy to unintentionally come across as too sappy or preachy or persuasive, and this will drive your reader away.

Here are a few straightforward dos and don’ts to keep in mind while writing your appeal:


For a better perspective, take a look at this great donor appeal we’ve picked out from our fundraiser inventory.

Navgurukul’s Donor Appeal: What They Did Right
Here, the campaigner begins with well-worded context, making the reader look at the big picture (education) and care about the issue associated with it. The language is simple and straightforward. Talking about the issue in detail with statistics proved the reader that the campaigner is truly concerned enough to work on a solution.

Next, the campaigner makes the reader familiar with their project and explains in detail their execution plan; how they will work (and have been doing so for a while) to make a real change to the problem posed above.

Navgurukul has also included pictures, infographics with relevant stats and a link to their website and full pitch that shows the research and planning that has been put into their project and really sells their cause. Check NavGurukul's full fundraiser story here.


A New Vision’s Donor Appeal: What They Did Right



A New Vision, a volunteer organization in Indonesia that aims to provide eye care to all, crowdfunded with Impact Guru for their Right to Sight project. They have written a great appeal as well, following a pattern similar to the one we have suggested. Personalizing their story with the title edits also gives a more professional edge to your appeal, making your project look more serious.





The campaigner also provided a fund utilization plan, broken down into a pie chart that is quite pleasing to read, rather than a boring list.

On the flip side, we’ve chosen an example of this donor appeal to give you an idea of what not to do.




To start with, the lack of visual aid (in the form of pictures and videos) leads to a lack of personality and this prevents the reader from feeling a connect with the fundraiser. Secondly, the appeal itself delves straight into the solution the campaigner is planning to provide without starting with a context or an introduction of the problem to ease the reader into the cause and why it’s important. And thirdly, the lack of details will disinterest the reader right in the beginning and rightfully so: if you don’t put effort into convincing them, why should they donate their hard earned money?

Here’s another example:




The lack of emotion and strength in the storytelling and we understand this is not possible for everyone to achieve, but if you have the means, put some effort and find some help to better your storytelling.

Take a look at more fundraisers here on our website and you’ll see for yourself what works and what doesn’t to write the perfect donor appeal for NGOs!


We suggest you also read: 

Read: A Complete Guide To Asking For Donations With Emails

Read: A Complete Guide To Reward Based Crowdfunding In India