A Comprehensive Guide to Your Year-End Drive, Part 1
The most lucrative fundraising months of the year are now upon us: September through year-end. The heat is on. Are you ready?
Two year-end appeal letters are required, not just one. The donor should receive the first appeal on the Monday before Thanksgiving, and the second on December 26. The second letter is sent exclusively to those donors who have not yet replied to the first appeal. Allow me to explain.
With the fast pace of the holidays, if you don’t give your donors a few gentle reminders, your appeal is likely to get overlooked.
One of the top reasons cited by donors for not making a gift is “no one asked me.” However, in some cases, we discovered that they were asked, but that the appeal letter was misplaced or overlooked. I will explain how to correct this problem.
I Hear Voices
It is best to think of your appeal letter as a love letter to your donors, not so much to tell a client's story or to extoll the storied tradition of your nonprofit, although both of those have their place.
Your appeal letter must generate or reinforce the deep feeling the donor has being a key part of your work.
A LAPA client who offers an afterschool program told the moving story, through a progression of photographs, of a young boy named Javier who a donor previously sponsored. Despite coming from a severely disadvantaged background, Javier became a statewide chess champion and later returned as a volunteer to the nonprofit, which had nurtured him in his youth. The donor was the hero of the story.
Client stories are great for newsletters and annual reports, but your appeal letters are to the donor and for the donor. It is about their past generosity and what their continued support will do. Do not stray from that path. I’d be glad to share a sample of an appeal letter written in “donor voice” if you contact me.
Stay tuned for part two next week.
Laurence is author of "The Nonprofit Fundraising Solution," the first book on fundraising ever published by the American Management Association. He is chairman of LAPA Fundraising serving nonprofits throughout the U.S. and Europe.