How to Write An Annual Fundraising Appeal Letter

 
Now the leaves are turning red, there's a cold breeze in the air, and pumpkin spice lattes are available to order, it's time to learn how to write an annual fundraising appeal letter that your donors will love. Saying thank you to your donors is a huge part of building that relationship with them, and encouraging them to increase their giving.

65% of donors only give once and out that group, 80% said they could have been convinced to make a second donation, which goes to show the influence a good appeal letter can have on your donors. However, saying thank you is more than just sending an email or postcard. They want to feel like they are part of your mission.

So take the time to make an exceptional end of year appeal letter for your donors. We've put together some top tips, practices and ideas for you to ace that holiday donor appeal letter and build strong relationships.

Start by Creating a Timeline and Setting Goals

If you're sending an appeal through the mail, think about when you want the donor to receive it. Aim to have it in your donor's hands well before December 1st (or Thanksgiving for anyone in the U.S), the first week of November is usually the best time to receive appeals. 

If you're rushing to get your appeal letter done, there's a good chance it won't turn out the way you want it to, so do yourself a favour and make sure you have enough time to write, print and send your appeals. Try getting together with your team midway through the year to start planning your integrated strategy. In this meeting, you should go over your timeline, delegate tasks and establish SMART goals using the previous year's success as a baseline. 

When planning the online portion of your campaign, determine the role technology will play, and the time needed to schedule, design and deliver your appeals if you have a CRM with email integration, great! It is a terrific tool that will allow you to send, track and manage your data in one platform, which will save a ton of time in the long run. 

Segment Your Donors Database

If you haven't already, segmenting your donors is a great way to put your donor data to good use. Sending out your year-end appeal letter to your best performing segments nonprofit is good practice, but not everyone should receive the same message. Each letter doesn't have to be completely different, but changing a few sentences to suit specific donor segments will make each letter more meaningful to your donors. 

Some segments you can consider are renewal (your previous donors which can be broken down into further segments), monthly donors, volunteers or acquisition . Taking the time to segment your donors will help increase your conversion rates. If you're unsure of where to start or need help managing your database contact us, data management is our specialty, and we're always happy to help! 

Attach a Reply Envelope or a Call to Action 

Whenever you have the opportunity to do so, tell your story. Don't send your appeal without a reply envelope or a strong call to action. When asking for a donation, tell them exactly what their gift is going towards and offer specific amounts. Be friendly with your ask, suggest that this is their last chance to make a tax-deductible donation. 

Sending a reply envelope also provides an excellent opportunity to collect data for your database like their address, phone number, and email address. If you choose to send an appeal online, you should include a strong call to action, whether it be a donation, following their social accounts or joining a program. 

Be direct with your call to action and it’s always good to have another set of eyes to ensure it’s hitting the mark. To encourage donors to take the next step, you must be clear and concise with what you want them to do. 

Be Personal

The more personalized you can make your request, the more likely you are to get a positive response. People respond to people, avoid writing letters that feel like bulk mail. Ask your board members, staff and volunteers to write personal notes to donors they're close with or give a general "thank-you."

Add a signature from your CEO, founder or Executive Director. It makes you look great and shows you take your donors seriously. Let your donors know you genuinely value their support. You can even go above and beyond by handwriting notes to large donors.

If the envelope doesn't get opened, it doesn't matter how good your appeal so make it look personal. If you're sending online, you can add a video message from your founder or executives thanking your donors. It's a simple act that can go a long way. 

Follow Up

In addition to sending an appeal, you need to follow up. Enlist your board members and staff to help make thank you calls and remember to keep your tax receipts separate. Stand out from other nonprofits by demonstrating that your organization is one that genuinely cares about your supporters. 

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