When writing a letter to ask for cash, gifts in kind or other forms of support, consider the following carefully:

  • Think of a project that you want to do that a company might want to support. Use the research you have done about what companies support what kinds of work.
  • Your letter should be as short as possible, certainly no more than one side of A4. You can supply other information as attachment, but avoid large amounts of information in your first correspondence; it only pays to provide information when it is necessary and requested.
  • State why you need the money or resources and exactly how it will be spent or used in your project. Include information on yourself and why you need support from that company specifically.
  • Explain clearly why the company should want to support you.
  • Try to communicate the urgency of the appeal without seeming to be raising money at the last minute. Look professional and organised. If it seems that you could do without the support until next year, they probably won't give it to you this year.
  • Ask for something specific. For example, if you need materials that only that company can provide, state your explicit need for gifts in kind rather than cash. Remember that you know how much or what you need, the company does not.
  • If you can demonstrate some sort of leverage, this is an added advantage. Companies like to think they get a lot for their money, and if you can promise matching donations or an offer from their rivals, so much the better.
  • Provide some background information with your short letter. This should also be short, crisp and to the point; a list of your past projects and achievements (with any funding or support received), a very short CV or artists statement or a specially produced proposal (very brief). Remember that you can follow up any of this information if required and companies will respond better to a longer relationship with you.
  • Ensure the letter is addressed to the correct person at the correct address. Correspondence is unlikely to be passed on if incorrectly addressed.
This article is from the Artlaw Archive of Henry Lydiate's columns published in Art Monthly since 1976, and may contain out of date material.
The article is for information only, and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.
Readers should consult a solicitor for legal advice on specific matters. Artists can get free online legal information from Artquest.