Tips for Making Your Year-End Appeal Rock!
I remember my first direct-mail appeal like it was yesterday. I was a mere two weeks into my first fundraising job when, during the course of an interview with our best volunteer, Patrick, I learned that the organization's annual appeal was only weeks away.
"If you can get this annual campaign back on the right track, you'll be our savior," Patrick said.
The organization's annual membership campaign had been outsourced to a succession of different agencies. The resulting product was slick, expensive … and one hot mess. Members of the community were angry, and the campaign had steadily lost donors and dollars for the previous five years. And I had about six weeks to create a turnaround.
I scrapped the full-color circular (who reads those things?) and developed a simple direct-mail package based on sound marketing concepts.
So what happened?
That appeal, my first ever, increased individual giving by a full 25 percent, while reducing costs by 31 percent. What's more, we brought in more than 100 new donors with our follow-up piece, without renting a list.
Tis' the season when nonprofit organizations around the globe are busy planning their year-end direct-mail appeals. For small-shop fundraisers constrained by limited resources, getting out a direct-mail appeal on a budget can seem like an insurmountable task.
Never fear, you can actually have an edge over the larger organizations with their agencies and design teams. Here are a few simple tips to shine:
1. Before you even begin to write, get outside of your internal world. Yes, you know your organization inside and out. Your donors don't have to. All they need to know is your impact — and how they can make a difference. Spend some time sitting down one on one with a few key players — a board member, a staff member and, yes, a donor. Why does what you do matter? Tell that story!
Pamela Grow is the publisher of The Grow Report, the author of Simple Development Systems and the founder of Simple Development Systems: The Membership Program and Basics & More fundraising fundamentals e-courses. She has been helping small nonprofits raise dramatically more money for over 15 years, and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Fundraisers by Civil Society magazine, and one of the 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants by The Michael Chatman Giving Show.