Blog

2 Questions You’ve Got To Answer in Your Year-End Appeal Letter

It’s that time again – time to create your fall fundraising campaign.

Your donors really want specifics when you ask for their help.

It’s the make-or-break time of the year.

This is the time when most nonprofits bring in most of their gifts.

And your fundraising strategy means everything right now – it can make the difference between your agency serving many, many people or helping only a few people.

So you better be smart about your year-end campaign.

If you’d like some help, this month, my INSIDERS subscribers are creating their own killer year-end letter. In September, we’ll design a full year-end fundraising campaign that will raise much more than last year.

And I have some of the best folks in the business working with the INSIDERS this fall: Tom Ahern, Harvey McKinnon, Convio, Big Duck Marketing, Derrick Feldman from Achieve Marketing. Join us and bring in the funding you need.

Find out more here.

When it comes to your year-end appeal letter – what do you really need to include?

There are so very many things you can say.

Let me tell you a story:

This morning, I was coaching a very smart colleague.

She was working on her year-end appeal letter. And she asked me to give her a quick edit.

Her first draft talked about all the great things this group has done in the past year and asks for a gift. (I wish I had a penny for every letter I’ve seen that starts out talking about all the wonderful accomplishments of the year.)

“No!” I said, “This won’t work! It’s interesting, but it’s not compelling.

It focuses backwards, not forwards.

It’s all about YOU – your organization – and how great you are. Not so sure donors care that much!

Here’s what your donors want to hear:”

1.  What, specifically, do you want to accomplish this coming year?

Tell your donors EXACTLY what you are raising money for.

This means you are NOT making a generic appeal.

Instead, you are making a very specific appeal, for something real.

This donor wants real information from you too!

You are asking your donors to contribute to some specific goals and projects.

Remember, NEVER, EVER make a vague, generic appeal.

It will kill the energy of your letter.

You’ve got to be as specific as possible.

2.  How much money will it take to accomplish this?

Post-recession donors have changed.

They want to target their money for specifics.

They are less trusting of big institutions, corporations, government and probably your local nonprofits too.

Where a vague appeal used to work 5 or 10 years ago, it now leaves today’s donors flat.

But the idea of something really specific that costs a certain amount, that’s something that can get their attention.

You know why?

It’s because the appeal becomes NOT about the money.

Instead it becomes about the cool project and the wonderful people who will be helped and how the world will really become a little bit better as a result.

There’s another reason a specific amount works so well:

It shows that you are planning, that you are businesslike, and that you’ve done the analysis of how much you need.

You have made your plans and you’re deliberately planning to execute them.

Sometimes just the act of naming an amount helps the money to actually come in.

The word gets around town that this group needs xxxx and sometimes foundations or special donors show up and make that last gift to meet the goal.

BOTTOM LINE: There’s lots of power in driving a stake in the ground and setting a goal.

So many organizations are afraid to set a goal because they need as much money as possible, and they want to raise as much as possible.

But I strongly recommend nailing down some goals and a dollar figure.

I promise it will help you raise more money!

And again, if you want some help creating your year-end appeal letter, and your whole year-end campaign, you can join the very cool, smart Fundraising INSIDERS and bring in the funding you need.

Categories
  • Myee

    Gail, I like your suggestions.  However, like many NPOs, our fiscal year closes out at the end of the year and the money we raise at year-end goes to help with the current fiscal year.  How do you suggest that we structure a forward-looking request under these conditions?

  • JUN

    I understand the need for specific projects and exact dollar amounts. I can do this easily for our restricted program funds (Exhibitions, Education, Public Programs)… Indeed I have a mailing that lays out exactly what we are doing and the fundraising goal for each.  But I feel that his has to be a secondary mailing to our annual appeal.  The annual appeal is needed to raise the unrestricted funds needed…I hate to sell the programs when we need money for lights and admissions staff..  As an art museum, I have a hard time selling the general operations.