Write a Project Proposal for Donor Funding (+Templates)

Learn how to write a donation proposal letter to secure funding and discover interactive donor proposal templates built according to the guidelines.

How to write a donor proposal

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Short answer

What to include in a donor proposal?

  1. Title slide

  2. Executive summary

  3. Project overview

  4. Objectives and goals

  5. Project budget

  6. Evaluation plan

  7. Sustainability plan

  8. Supporting materials (testimonials, case studies etc.)

  9. The ask

  10. Next steps (Call to Action)

Keep reading for the full explanation ⤵

Your project will never lift off without a solid proposal

You're out there every day, your team fully committed and your mission crystal clear. But even with all this hard work, there's a chance your donor proposals might be missing a critical mark.

If you’re not clearly showing how urgent and important your projects are, you might find yourself in a tough spot where the funding just isn't there to keep going.

In this blog post, I’ll show how you can turn this around and write proposals that deeply engage your donors and open their wallets.

Let’s dive in!

How to write a donor proposal to charm potential donors

Putting together a standout nonprofit proposal for donor funding really comes down to showing the tangible impact and long-term benefits of your project.

Let's dive into how you can nail this, making sure your proposal connects well, whether you're pitching to a public institution or a private philanthropist.

1) Nail the executive summary

This is your hook. For public donors, align your project with their policy goals and spell out the benefits for the community.

For private donors, you should pull on the heartstrings a bit more. Show them the personal impact of their support. Keep it concise and powerful.

Example of an executive summary slide:

Donor proposal executive summary slide example

2) Explain your project in detail

Here's where you lay everything out—objectives, strategies, and expected results. Public donors will want to see a lot of data and detailed plans, while private donors might prefer a story that shows what the project will do for real people.

Great example of a project overview slide:

Donor proposal project overview slide example

3) Present the budget clearly

Your budget needs to be crystal clear. Show public donors how every dollar is accounted for in a way that meets their criteria for cost-effectiveness.

Private donors will want to see that their money is going directly to cause impacts that align with their passions.

4) Include a solid evaluation plan

Tell donors exactly how you'll measure success. Public donors are all about metrics and data—they need to see the impact in a quantifiable way.

Private donors might be more interested in stories and qualitative outcomes that show change happening on the ground.

Example of a slide with a budget and an evaluation plan:

Donor proposal budget and evaluation slide example

5) Add a sustainability plan

Here’s the thing: it’s crucial to show that your project won’t just fade away after the initial funding runs out. Talk about how it’ll become a part of the community or sustain itself financially in the long run.

This approach really helps reassure donors—whether they're big organizations or private individuals—that their support will have a lasting impact, not just a temporary boost.

Sustainability plan slide example:

Donor proposal sustainability plan slide example

6) Make a clear ask

One common mistake in writing donor proposals is covering every little detail about your project but never actually making a clear ask.

Remember, donors won't just guess what you need—they want you to be straightforward with them. If you’ve put in the effort to present a compelling proposal, don’t hesitate to say exactly how much funding you’re seeking.

Consider breaking it down into specific packages; this approach spells out what each contribution will fund, giving donors straightforward choices.

By laying out the options like this, you make it much easier for donors to decide where they want their money to go.

Example of the ask slide:

Donor proposal the ask slide example

7) Stick to the guidelines

Sticking closely to the guidelines isn't just about checking off boxes—it's about showing that you really respect and understand what the donor is looking for.

Public donors, for example, have pretty specific rules that cover everything, like how you format your proposal, even needing you to register online before you can submit anything. They do this to make sure everyone's playing by the same rules.

Meanwhile, private donors often give you more wiggle room to get creative with your proposals. But even so, taking those guidelines seriously can really up your chances of making a good impression and securing that funding.

Here’s what Fazal Mabood, a Program Manager at Tree Aid, has to say about this:

“Following donors guidelines is important. Each donor would have their way of reviewing and analysing your proposals. And they normally develop their analysis tools according to their formats. When your proposal deviates from their format it may create a bit of tension when pulling the information from different sections in your proposal.”

—Fazal Mabood, Program Manager at Tree Aid

Fazal Mabood - Program Manager at Tree Aid

8) Support your proposal

Bolster your donor funding proposal with letters of support, press articles, or any endorsements you have. It strengthens your case, showing that others believe in your project too.

Example of a testimonials slide:

Donor proposal testimonials slide example

9) End with a clear next step

When it comes to wrapping up any kind of proposal, the worst thing you can do is slap a basic 'Thank you' slide on the reader and call it a day.

If you want your deck to be effective, clearly outline what you’d like the donor to do next, whether that means setting up a meeting, watching a demonstration of your project, or talking over funding options.

This clarity makes it easier for the donor to act and shows you’re serious about moving forward together. It also keeps the momentum going and sets the stage for future interactions.

Next steps slide example:

Donor proposal next steps slide example

Successful donor proposal examples that open wallets

Now that you know how to write a donor proposal, it’s time to see these principles in action.

Below, we’ll explore several different examples of donor proposals and break down what makes each of them so effective.

The best part is that they’re all 100% customizable, so you can grab any deck you like and use it as a framework to create your own.

Donor proposal for a charity supporting the elderly

The moment I opened this donor proposal deck, what immediately stood out was the customizable title slide.

I know it’s an old trick—I use it myself with my personal newsletter. But honestly, if I had a dollar for every time I received a generic pitch from someone who didn’t even bother to look up my name or what I do, I’d be one happy lady.

So, whenever I see my name, I have to give the sender some credit for putting in more effort than most. And, if my hard-earned money were at stake, it’d be even more of a deal-breaker for me than it is now.

And, as someone who absolutely hates searching around for the correct logo version with a transparent background, I found the logo placeholders just as easy to customize—which is a winner in my book!

Project proposal for donor funding

Now, I might not be donating huge sums, but I do regularly support a handful of local charities.

One thing that really turns me off when deciding who to back is a vague explanation of how the funds will be used.

I really like to know that my contributions are going to make a real difference, so I appreciate when charities are upfront about their financial needs and how they plan to spend the money.

This project proposal nails it by providing a clear overview of what’s planned, the main goals, and the budget needed. I particularly like the “Read more” button—it lets me dive deeper into the specifics without making the main page too busy.

And if I found this feature helpful, just think how much it could influence donors who are contemplating larger contributions!

Project funding proposal for a youth charity

A sad truth about donor proposals is that potential donors receive dozens, if not hundreds, of pitches on a daily basis, and there are only so many they can actually back.

Once a reader finishes your proposal, there's a high chance they'll just move on to the next one.

So, I liked how this project funding proposal keeps the momentum going by including a link to the calendar on the last slide.

This way, it makes it super easy for donors to take that next step, increasing the chances that they will actually commit to your cause.

Major gift funding proposal for a healthcare charity

My mom is a healthcare professional, and one thing she always does when she starts talking about work is subconsciously sprinkle in a ton of medical jargon.

As a result, she often loses me halfway through our conversations, and I find myself asking her to repeat things.

So, if I were a potential donor with no medical background, I’d really appreciate how this presentation smoothly guides me through the content.

I could comfortably explore each section at my own pace, and the clever use of highlights ensured that I always knew which bits of information were most important to focus on.

Donor funding proposal for a cultural organization

If I were a donor, one thing I’d want to make sure about is the long-term sustainability of the organization I’m planning to back.

Essentially, I’d want to know whether they have a plan in place to secure additional funds after the initial funding runs out or if they can scale up their efforts.

In fact, having a sustainability plan is essential when you’re presenting your proposal to a public donor.

I appreciated that this presentation not only included a clear sustainability plan but also featured a thorough evaluation plan to track and measure the results.

Fundraising proposal letter for an animal charity

This fundraising proposal letter was definitely my favorite—and not just because animal charities are my absolute favorite to support.

There were 2 things that I liked the most about this deck: first up, the testimonials were neatly organized into tabs, each with links to the full case studies.

The second highlight was the pricing slide. It offered 3 different pricing packages, each clearly explaining what you get. This way, even if you can't contribute a lot, you can still easily support the cause.

Where to find effective donor proposal templates?

Let’s be real—putting together a donor proposal from scratch can eat up a lot of time and energy. And when you're running a nonprofit, those are in pretty short supply!

Interactive donor proposal templates have got the whole setup ready for you, so you can just tweak things to suit your needs and move on. This way, you can spend more time on what truly matters: your mission.

Just grab one from the library below.

No templates found
Dominika Krukowska

Hi, I'm Dominika, Content Specialist at Storydoc. As a creative professional with experience in fashion, I'm here to show you how to amplify your brand message through the power of storytelling and eye-catching visuals.

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