Often the most simple tasks can feel the most challenging, and I’d bet my last dollar if you asked most nonprofit staff which end-of-year task they dread the most, the appeal would be in everyone’s top three. The simplicity is what makes these annual appeals particularly daunting because there’s little room for error.
But what’s an end-of-year appeal?
And what’s its purpose?
Let’s talk about it.
An appeal is a request for donations from individuals or organizations in support of a specific cause. They’re different from general donation requests because appeals should only be used a few times a year, and they ask for support for a specific campaign hence the term “end-of-year” appeal.
Because the purpose of an appeal is to funnel support into a campaign, they’re usually sweet, short, simple and to the point. In this digital world, many appeals are sent electronically but some nonprofits will set aside physical letters (with the executive director’s handwritten signature) to send out to donors who have given above a particular threshold. If you ask me, between the physical and the digital, I personally think it comes down to your donor base.
If your donor base is primarily composed of millennials and gen Z, solely relying on physical letters isn’t the best option for you. These are the folks who spend the most time online and always have their phones handy. However, if your audience is older, they’ll appreciate, or might even prefer, a physical letter.
Now that we know what an appeal is and its purpose, how do you write a good end-of-year appeal? Here’s some advice:
- Make it clear to the donor early on why you are asking for their support. This statement should be in the first paragraph of the appeal, if not the first line. Donors need to know why they should give and where their money will be going in the long-run.
- Don’t be afraid to be specific. If your organization needs another $5k to meet their end-of-year goal, let your donors know. Not only do they want to help but if you’ve been cultivating your donor base right, they’ll feel just as invested as you.
- You also need to create a sense of urgency. Donors need to know why the money is needed now. For the year’s end, usually it’s because the money raised from November through December sets the organization up for success in the new year.
You know this, and your donors should, too.
- If I had to give a final tip when it comes to appeals, it’s to not forget your greeting and close. Because appeals have that sense of urgency, it’s easy to forget your manners. After all, you’re in business mode by then, and just knocking tasks off your to-do list. But donors shouldn’t feel like tasks. All appeals still need that personal touch, and a lot of gratitude for the people who make our work possible.
If you’re interested in learning more about fundraising, schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me to see what we can get done. You’re not in this alone!