Most churches depend on the generosity of members for financial support. Church youth groups are no different. They may start with limited funding from the church, but often need additional resources for special activities. Donations may be necessary for events such as raffles, silent auctions and trivia nights. Informative, hard-hitting request letters can help a youth group achieve its goals.
Prepare an information sheet about the youth group. Include brief descriptions of the group's charitable activities, events and mission work. Use pictures of the youth from past events to help potential donors visualize the programs. Your information should include the organization's tax ID information and verification of its non-profit status.
Develop a separate cover letter for each major fundraising activity. Briefly describe each event and its purpose. Avoid vague or generic statements such as "we're requesting money to support our youth group." Use direct, clear language like "Eight members of our senior high youth group are going to Haiti on a mission trip this summer to give English lessons to children from several orphanages." This lets the potential donor know exactly how his money will be used and reassures him it's for a worthy cause.
Specify in your donation request exactly what you need. Request gift baskets for a silent auction, sports tickets for a raffle, or soft drink donations for your spaghetti dinner. If you're requesting cash donations, mention your total fundraising goal. Specify what certain amounts support, such as "Your $20 donation will buy two mosquito nets to take with us on our mission trip to Kenya."
Check the website of each organization you plan to contact. Many specify what efforts they'll support and how non-profit groups can request donations. Follow their instructions exactly. Some corporations have online request forms that ask for a group name, the purpose of the fundraiser, and contact information. Others, such as Six Flags, want to see a copy of the group's fundraising letter.
Send your cover letter and background information electronically or via traditional mail if the donor does not give other instructions. That letter must include your contact information, the date of your event and how the donor can send his donation.
Deliver paper copies of your request letter in person to local businesses. The most effective deliverers are the youth themselves since it shows they're involved in the effort. Speak to someone in authority, and offer to return later to pick up the donation. Follow up with another visit or a phone call if you haven't heard from the business within a week or two. Time your calls and visits to avoid inconveniencing customers of the business. Stop by after a lunch rush or shortly before closing.
Offer something tangible to the business in exchange for its donation. For example, if the local bakery donates doughnuts, tell them you'll acknowledge the gift with a sign at the event.