Once is Not Enough,and Why You Need a Multichannel Fundraising Campaign


If you think you can send one fundraising appeal and then wait for the donations to pour in, you’re in for a rude awakening. Your donors are busy and may put your letter aside to handle later, and then never get to it. Or, they may not see your fundraising email in their ever growing inbox. While some donors will respond to the first appeal, most are going to need a few reminders.

You also don’t want to rely on one communication channel. Your fundraising campaign will be more effective if you use a combination of mail, email, social media, and phone calls. Some donors may respond to your direct mail piece but donate online. Others will see your email message but prefer to send a check.

You’ll have a lot of competition since you’re not the only organization seeking year-end donations. Not to mention, election season is in full force in U.S. but, thankfully, will be over on November 8.

This is why you need a multichannel campaign with a series of asks.


Clean up your mailing lists

If you haven’t already done so, clean up and organize your mailing lists.

Make it easy to donate online

You must have a donation page that’s engaging and easy to use on all platforms, including mobile. Test all links in email messages and social media posts. The last thing you want is a donor contacting you about a broken link or have to hunt around on your website for a link to your donation page.

When you’re ready to launch your campaign, include a blurb on your homepage that your appeal is underway. Make sure your donate button is in a prominent place.

Consistency is key

Your messages need to be consistent across channels. Use the same story and call to action in direct mail, email, and on your website.

Everything you send needs to look like it’s coming from the same organization.

Which channels do your donors use?

Yes, we’re talking about multichannel, but that doesn’t mean spending a lot of time on channels your donors aren’t using. Figure out in advance where you want to focus your efforts.


Come up with a schedule of when the appeals will go out. I’ve created a sample schedule below. Of course, you can adjust the timeframe as needed, and use this for campaigns at other times of the year. That said, I do recommend starting your year-end campaign sooner than later.

October 26

Give your supporters a heads up by email and social media. Let them know your year-end appeal is underway and they should receive a letter from you soon. Encourage them to donate online right now. This means your donation page needs to be in great shape.

Week of October 31

Mail your appeal letters.

Week of November 7

Start sending follow-up reminders via email and social media. If possible, don’t send reminders to people who have already donated. Otherwise, be sure to thank your recent donors. You can even phrase your reminders as more of a thank you or an update.

Thanks so much to all of you who donated to our year-end appeal. We’re well on our way to our goal. If you haven’t donated yet, please help us out today by visiting our website (include a link to your donation page) or sending us a check (provide address).

Week of November 14

Send another reminder. Your donors are busy and may need a gentle prompt. Keep it positive. Don’t make your donors feel bad because they haven’t donated yet.

Week of November 21

Send a Happy Thanksgiving message along with a friendly reminder. Share a success story in your appeal.

Week of November 28

Start making reminder calls. If time is an issue, you could just call people who have donated before. That’s probably most effective.

Also, November 29 is #GivingTuesday so you could tie that into a reminder message.

The rest of December and beyond

Keep sending reminders throughout December. It’s tricky because you want to get your message across without being annoying. Be sure to keep sending your newsletter and other updates. You don’t want the only messages your donors receive to be fundraising appeals. December is also a great time to show some #donorlove.

The end of December is the busiest time of the fundraising season. Network for Good recommends sending an email reminder on December 23, 29 or 30, and 31. This is especially relevant if your fiscal year ends on December 31 or your donor wants to give before the end of the calendar year. Even though you’re trying to secure donations, don’t forget about building relationships, too.

Look to see who hasn’t contributed yet. Concentrate on people who are most likely to donate, such as past donors. You may need to send another mailing to donors who don’t use electronic communication.

Remember, your fundraising will be more successful with multiple asks and by using multiple channels. 9 Tips for Making a Multichannel Fundraising Ask  Good luck with your campaign.

Photo by Daniel Iverson

Low-Cost Fundraising: 6 Innovative Ideas


By Kerri Moore

It’s hard to raise money and it’s more difficult if you have limited resources. In this post, Kerri Moore of Booster has some low-cost fundraising ideas for you. Some don’t even involve asking for money but emphasize building relationships with the donors you already have.

Low-cost fundraising isn’t just about saving your nonprofit some extra cash.

After all, a cost can be:

  • The time it takes to plan and execute a fundraising campaign or event.
  • The labor of your staff, volunteers, and fundraising team.
  • Net fundraising expenses, which you can measure as cost per dollar.

This might sound paradoxical, but to keep all of your costs low, your organization will need to make an investment. 1

An investment in your donors, that is.

It’s much more expensive to acquire new donors than it is to work with the supporters you already have.

That’s why building up donor relationships is the best way to keep fundraising costs low.

Check out these six innovative ideas that focus on your nonprofit’s relationship with your donors:

  1. Brand t-shirts and products.
  2. Strategize with social media.
  3. Host a thank-a-thon.
  4. Leverage your supporters.
  5. Host a community drive.
  6. Appeal for recurring donations.

Let’s get started with number 1.

1. Brand t-shirts and products.

Displaying Booster-AnnGreen-LowCostFundraising-Idea-1.png

Low-cost product fundraisers are an effective way to entice donors to give without breaking your budget.

But to create long-term low-cost fundraising, you’ll need to brand your products so that donors become invested in your organization.

T-shirts are one of the most effective products, but there are plenty of options that can suit your organization’s needs, whether it be a school, church, or traditional nonprofit. 2

That said, t-shirts for your fundraising campaign allow supporters to:

  • Support your organization with a donation.
  • Promote your nonprofit by wearing the shirt and spreading the word.
  • Remind your supporters of your nonprofit and their connection to your cause.

That’s why it’s vital that you brand your t-shirts or products with the name of your fundraising campaign and/or your nonprofit’s name and logo.

Make your cause tangible on the shirts, so that anyone who sees them can understand your message. 3

Since t-shirts can be extremely affordable, or even free (with a cost per shirt sold, rather than an upfront charge), they’ll help keep your costs low. 4

2. Strategize with social media.

Displaying Booster-AnnGreen-LowCostFundraising-Idea-2.png

With rising print costs, communicating and advertising over mail can be a strain on your organization’s budget.

While we would never advise that you forgo print communication channels, a strong social media strategy can supplement your print efforts and diminish your donor acquisition costs.

After all, social media allows your supporters to share information about your nonprofit with their own networks. Many peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns capitalize on social media for this very reason.

Producing quality material for social media is important and the internet offers plenty of free or affordable software to help you advertise on the web. 5

Social media integration for your online fundraising platform is important, and mobile-friendly pages are a must. 6

Beyond the technical basics, how can you use social media to keep your costs low?

  • Spread awareness with a hashtag. A hashtag is the perfect tool to advertise your fundraising campaign, and they’re free to make! You will, however, want to take the time to choose a hashtag that encompasses your campaign. Something simple, something catchy, an alluring alliteration — all of these factors are elements of a strong hashtag.
  • Host a soft launch. One of the most cost-effective means of building hype for your campaign is hosting a soft launch, where your supporters and board members donate to your campaign before it’s launched to the public. A soft launch taps into social psychology. If people see that others have already donated, then they’ll be more inclined to give themselves.
  • Live tweet your campaign. Twitter allows you to update your followers on your fundraising campaign — for free! A social media coordinator can post live updates about your campaign. A little wit goes a long way. You could, for example, tie your campaign into current, trending topics to attract retweets and favorites.

Creating an effective social media strategy is the perfect low-cost way to advertise your campaign and connect with more supporters.

3. Host a thank-a-thon.

Displaying Booster-AnnGreen-LowCostFundraising-Idea-3.png

If you’ve heard of walkathons, you’ll get the gist of a thank-a-thon. 7  Your fundraising team, as well as volunteers, board members, and supporters, come together for an hour or two of pure gratitude to thank people for their recent donations.

If you can’t call everyone during the thank-a-thon, call major or mid-level donors with major donor potential. Calling first-time donors often results in repeat gifts.

This fundraising strategy does not involve asking for money.

Instead, you’re building stronger donor relationships in a single, deliberate effort, which will ultimately benefit your fundraising down the road. 8

A thank-a-thon is a low-cost activity that you can modify to suit your needs.

Besides making calls, you can, for example:

  • Hand-write thank you notes.
  • Thank each social media supporter in the comments.
  • Have each team member hold up a sign with a donor’s name, take a picture, and post it to your campaign’s Facebook page.

The possibilities are endless.

The goal is to go beyond your typical thanking strategy to ensure that your donors feel more appreciated at your organization than they do anywhere else.   

4. Leverage your supporters.

Displaying Booster-AnnGreen-LowCostFundraising-Idea-4.png

Keeping your fundraising costs low means using the resources you already have to your advantage.

You can reach out to your supporters directly, or you can perform preliminary research and make targeted appeals. 9

Here are just a few ideas of how you can leverage your supporters:

  • Board members can host events. A fancy, intimate event is a staple of major donor relations, but venues, food, and entertainment costs can add up quickly. A board member may be able to offer a nice property or valuable connections that can cut overhead costs. Take 10 minutes during a meeting to have each member write down three possible contributions that they could offer.
  • Hold a skills clinic. Everyone has talent. Your organization is probably full of people with unique skill sets. A skills clinic allows your supporters to contribute to your organization and the community, all while having fun at a unique and cost-effective event.
  • Promote matching gifts. Many companies offer matching gifts opportunities, where a company will match their employees’ gifts. Taking a look at your supporters’ business affiliations can indicate who’s sitting on a donation that could be doubled. You can also promote matching gifts to your entire organization so that everyone is aware of the opportunity.

Whether you’re looking for business affiliations or valuable connections, keeping an organized database of your supporters can help you identify the people with the potential to offset costs — and further your cause! 10

5. Host a community drive.

Displaying Booster-AnnGreen-LowCostFundraising-Idea-5.png

A community drive not only benefits your nonprofit, but it helps your community!

There are plenty of different ways that this type of campaign can work, but the concept is the same: supporters supply the products, and your nonprofit makes a nearly pure profit.

Here are some ideas for community drives that your organization can try:

  • Bottle and can drive.
  • Upcycled artwork.
  • Prom dress drive.
  • Used batteries.
  • Old cell phones.
  • Used book sale.

You can even turn some of these drives into an event or an auction to promote more fundraising. 11

Ultimately, your product drive should help people in your community or the environment.

The most important part of pulling off a community drive is spreading awareness so that people donate their recyclables or gently used products.

6. Appeal for recurring donations.

Displaying Booster-AnnGreen-LowCostFundraising-Idea-6.png

A fundraising campaign can reap great rewards for your nonprofit, but part of keeping your cost-to-benefit ratio in good territory means planning for long-term success.

Recurring donations are a means for donors to continue their support after your fundraising campaign ends.

Creating a strong appeal for recurring donations can encourage supporters to make more than a one-time, in-the-moment donation when they give to your campaign. 12

You can, for example, emphasize the simplicity and ease of recurring donations (especially at churches, where recurring tithes are an easy way for supporters to make their weekly contributions). 13

Or, you can craft your campaign’s focus around recurring donations. For example, you can suggest that supporters give up one $30 meal per month to feed hungry children for 30 days. Hashtag with #30for30, and you’re set for low-cost fundraising!

Are you ready to innovate your low-cost fundraising? Well, don’t forget to keep your donors in mind.

Their relationships with your nonprofit are priceless, so building strong connections is the most cost-effective fundraising you can do!

  1. https://anngreennonprofit.com/2015/11/24/make-an-investment-in-your-donors/
  2. http://blog.booster.com/school-fundraising-ideas/
  3. https://anngreennonprofit.com/2015/03/04/steer-clear-of-generic/
  4. https://doublethedonation.com/product-fundraising-ideas/
  5. https://anngreennonprofit.com/2012/06/27/choose-quality-over-quantity-part-two-social-media/
  6. https://doublethedonation.com/nonprofit-software-and-resources/online-fundraising-guide/
  7. http://blog.booster.com/walkathon-guide/
  8. https://anngreennonprofit.com/2015/07/13/dont-treat-thanking-your-donors-as-an-afterthought/
  9. http://www.donorsearch.net/
  10. https://www.360matchpro.com/top-matching-gift-companies/
  11. http://www.bidpal.com/charity-auction-item-ideas/
  12. https://anngreennonprofit.com/2015/09/02/how-to-create-an-a-appeal-letter/
  13. https://www.atpay.com/church-management-tips/

Kerri Moore is the Director of Marketing at Booster, Created by CustomInk. She Headshot-Kerri-Mooreand her team help create content aimed at maximizing organizers’ fundraising potential and furthering their mission to raise awareness for the cause or passion that means the most to them.

Are You Bragging Too Much?


Have you been to a party and ended up stuck in a conversation with someone who talks too much about herself or brags about all the wonderful things he’s done? You roll your eyes in frustration and plan your escape to the drinks table.

Imagine your donors having the same reaction when all your communications sound like one big bragfest that have nothing to do with them. Okay, maybe your appeal or newsletter won’t drive them to drink, but it may end up in the recycle bin, unread.

Yes, you want to share your accomplishments, but you don’t don’t want to sound like that boring person at the party. It’s possible to do this without bragging. Here’s how.

Be donor-centered

You don’t need to tell your donors your organization is great. They wouldn’t have given you money if they didn’t think highly of you.

Let your donors know they’re great because they helped you make a difference for the people or community you serve. Give specific examples. Because of donors like you, Jane now has a home of her own.

All your communications should be donor or audience-centered. One way to ensure this is to use the word you more than we or us. Is Your Organization Donor-Centered? Find Out by Taking This Quiz

Tell a story

Telling a story is a great way to share accomplishments. Whether it’s in the first or third person, you can give a personal account of how you’re making a difference. Remember to focus on the people you serve and keep your organization in the background. Dazzle Your Donors With a Great Story

Photos and videos featuring the people you serve is another good way to share accomplishments.

Why is what you do important

Instead of the usual laundry list you see in annual reports, such as we served over X number of students in our tutoring program, focus on why that’s important, too. Students in our tutoring program are now reading at their grade level and have a better chance of graduating from high school on time.

Instead of focusing on what you do, let your donors know why it’s important.  Why you should probably trash your general brochure

Show don’t tell

Too many newsletters and annual reports ramble on about how an organization is number one in such and such, or there was a crisis and Y organization came in to solve it.

Go back to stories and examples. You can’t ignore your organization altogether, but instead of saying we were the first organization to come in and help the flood victims or we’re the number one hospital in the community, say Thanks to you, residents of the flood -ravaged town now have access to clean drinking water and can start rebuilding their homes or Thanks to you, the new outpatient clinic can serve more people in the community.

How you made a difference is more important than being first or best.

Current donors want to see the results of their gift. Potential donors may be more interested in your reputation, but they also want to see how their donation will make a difference.

A quick checklist

Before you share accomplishments in an appeal letter, thank you letter, newsletter article, social media update, annual report, etc, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this donor/audience-centered?
  • Are we focusing on the people/community we serve?
  • Are we showing results?
  • Are we saying why this is important?
  • Are we bragging too much about ourselves?

Say Thank You Like You Mean It



Year-end fundraising season is underway and many of you may be working on your appeal letters. But have you given any thought to how you’ll thank your donors? If you’re thinking that’s something you can worry about after your appeal letters go out, you’re making a huge mistake.

Thanking donors often takes a back seat in fundraising campaigns, but it’s a crucial component that you need to start planning now. It’s often poorly done and I feel as if organizations thank their donors because someone told them they had to instead of it being something they want to do.

You can rise above the mediocrity and thank your donors like you mean it. Here’s how.

Do something special for your donors now

Do something special for your donors before you send your appeal. This could be a short thank you update you send by mail or email (mail is better). I received a couple of donor-focused updates recently. One had a big Thank You in the middle. The other opened with Your Giving in Action...

This post includes a great example. Knock it Out of the Park You could also send a postcard or give a special shout out to your donors in your newsletter, although all newsletters should be gratitude-focused anyway. Another option is to hold an open house. Why Having an Open House Makes Sense

Handwritten notes and phone calls make a huge difference

Make your donor’s day by sending a handwritten note or making a phone call. Start recruiting board members, staff, and other volunteers to help you with this. If you can’t send cards or make calls to all your donors, choose the ones you will reach out to. Calling new donors can help ensure they’ll donate again. You should also consider reaching out to long-term donors. Retention rates are still shaky, so you want to make an effort to keep your donors.

Here’s a sample phone script, which you can modify for a thank you note.

Hi, this is Paul Wilson and I’m a board member at the Lakeside Community Food Bank. I’m calling to thank you for your generous donation of $50. Thanks to you, we can provide a family with a week’s worth of groceries. This is great. We’re seeing more people coming in right now because of cuts to food stamp programs. We really appreciate your support.

Write a stellar letter  

If you can’t send a handwritten note or make a phone call, then take the time to write a stellar thank you letter. All donors should get this letter, even if they’ve donated online. Getting something in the mail is more personal and your donor will be more likely to see it. Email thank yous tend to be more like receipts, although they don’t have to be. More on that later.

Your letter should not include the usual, boring “On Behalf of X organization…..” Write as if you’re having a conversation with a friend and leave out vague jargon such as at-risk or underserved.

Don’t send the same letter to each donor. Recognize past gifts and upgrades, and give a specific example of how the donation will make a difference.

Something like this.

Dear Janet,

You’re amazing! Because of your generous donation of $50,we can provide a family with a week’s worth of groceries.

Thank you so much for being a longtime donor!

You can also write personal notes on the letters. Think about including an eye-catching photo as well.

Here are some more ways to do a better job of thanking your donors.

5 Clever Ways to Improve Your Thank You Letters

4 More Clever Ways to Improve Your Thank You Letters

Steal This Thank You Letter! A Sample Donor Thank You Letter for Your Non-Profit

Give your donors an outstanding online experience

Many people donate online and that includes donating on a mobile device. Your landing page is your first chance to say thank you. It should be personal and not look like an Amazon shopping cart.

Open with Thank you, Diane! or You’re incredible!  Include an engaging photo or video and a short, easy to understand description of how the donation will help the people you serve. Put all the tax deductible information after your message or in the automatically generated thank you email.

Speaking of the automatically generated thank you email, be sure it’s warm and personal. Make it slightly different than the thank you landing page. It only needs to be a few sentences, but make it good.

Just because your thank you email is automatically generated, doesn’t mean it needs to sound like it was written by a robot. Take time to write something nice.

Remember, you’re not done yet. Even if someone donates online she should receive a thank you card, letter, or phone call as soon as possible, preferably within 48 hours.

Here are some more ways to give your donors an outstanding online thank you.

5 ways to improve your online donation thank you page

21 Ideas For Your Nonprofit’s Donation Confirmation Page

Make your new donors feel welcome

Retention rates for first-time donors are awful. You want them to stay and your first step is to make these new donors feel welcome. Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your New Donors

Keep it up

Thanking your donors is a year-round commitment. It’s not just something you do after you get a donation. It needs to be a  priority, and you need to thank your donors like you mean it.

Photo bShih-Chieh “Ilya” Li

Getting Started with Mobile Fundraising: 5 Ways


By Eric Griego

Almost everyone has a mobile phone these days and that includes your donors. Imagine they’ll see your next fundraising email appeal on their phone and decide to donate right then. Will they be able to do that without getting so frustrated that they’ll want to smash their phones to pieces?

Before we get knee-deep into year-end fundraising season,take some time to get up to speed with mobile fundraising. Eric Griego from @pay shows you how.

Mobile fundraising is a craze that’s sweeping the nation. And if you’re a nonprofit professional that’s curious about how you can jump on this exciting bandwagon, you’re in the right place!

In this article, we’re going to discuss 5 of the top ways to make mobile fundraising a part of your organization’s strategy.

Let’s dive right in!

#1. Upgrade Your Email Strategy for Mobile.

First things first, you have to get your emails in line.

Because Americans spend an average of 6.3 hours a day checking their emails, you’d better believe it’s important to make your emails stand out.

And where are they checking their inboxes most often? You guessed it: on their mobile phones!

That’s why it’s doubly crucial to make sure that all of your correspondence is mobile-responsive and mobile-friendly.

Some easy-to-follow best practices for ensuring this include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Stack content vertically instead of horizontally,
  • Limit the amount of text and large images,
  • Enlarge buttons and calls-to-action,
  • And ensure a quick loading speed,

A couple of these strategies will require more work than others to incorporate, but at the end of the day, it’s vital to invest in your mobile email strategy if you want to launch a successful mobile giving campaign.

For more concrete advice on re-vamping your emails, check out @Pay’s guide to email newsletters.

#2. Investigate Text-to-Give Technology.

Another big piece of the mobile fundraising puzzle is text-to-give fundraising.

Text-to-give technology lets users text their favorite nonprofit (that’s you!) with the donation amount of their choice, and voila! Their gift is submitted!

An example would be a donor has simply texted the number “10” to a Disaster Relief Fund’s text-to-give number. They’ve clicked on the link that was automatically sent to them to confirm their payment, and the nonprofit has sent them an immediate, “Thanks!”

Texting to give is a short, intuitive process that takes less time than tying your shoes.

And it’s an absolute myth that young people are the only ones that text to donate.

In fact, the average text-to-give donor is 49-59 years old and has a college degree.

All of this is just to say that when you’re looking into getting started with mobile fundraising, don’t discount text-to-give technology.

It’s a simple, swift, and — best of all — secure way for your donors to give on the go.

#3. Give Your Website a Mobile Refresher.

Just as you should probably re-boot your email strategy, you should also take a second glance at your nonprofit’s website to make sure that your online giving options translate well to mobile.

Again, you’ll go through a lot of the same procedures as you would when you’re updating your email systems for mobile-responsiveness.

You’ll still want to make sure that the contents of your website stack neatly and vertically on a phone. This will ensure that no one has to pinch, zoom, or swipe around in order to read and navigate your site effectively.

You may also want to figure out an interesting way to tell your nonprofit’s story through mobile-friendly visuals.

But make sure you’re still limiting the number of large images, as they tend to bog down loading times. Striking the right balance is hard, but not impossible!

To read more best practices for sprucing up your nonprofit’s website, click here.

#4. Make Mobile Fundraising a Part of Every Day.

One of the most important facets of mobile fundraising is that it allows your donors to be able to communicate with you from wherever they are, whenever they’d like.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why you should consider making mobile giving a part of your everyday strategy.

From live fundraising events to direct appeals and so much more, your nonprofit can incorporate every kind of mobile giving into your plans.

For instance, if you’re hosting an auction, you might consider looking into mobile bidding technology.

And if you’re trying to ramp up your year-end giving, you may want to research the ways that email donation buttons can significantly increase annual gifts.

Not to mention the kind of funds that launching a text-to-give campaign at a benefit concert could raise!

If you need further advice on buying software, consult @Pay’s informative article.

#5. Incorporate Mobile into Your Stewardship.  

Nothing is more important than giving your donors a great thank-you experience.

And with mobile giving technology, your nonprofit can make that goal a reality.

Before the advent of online fundraising, a donor would have to mail in a check or submit one in person (at a gala or other event) and then wait a few days (or weeks, in some cases) to hear that the organization appreciated their donation.

Now, when a donor makes a mobile contribution, the software automatically sends back at least one message of thanks within a few minutes!

And setting that automated message is as easy as apple pie.

In addition to setting up automatic messages of gratitude, your organization can (and should!) also be prepared with personalized email messages to send out to your mobile donors.

You don’t want to leave the conversation with just a “Thanks!” You want to demonstrate to those supporters that their gifts are instrumental to your cause.

So be sure to draft up several different digital letters of thanks throughout the year.

Update your email messages with current project info, real photos of progress, and most of all, sincere words of gratitude.

Because when you thank your donors promptly and personally, you end up with happy, loyal supporters!

Hopefully, this article has enlightened you on some of the ways that you can get started with and incorporate mobile fundraising into your existing strategy.

Until next time, happy fundraising!

Eric Griego is the Director of Business Development at @Pay, a simple Eric Griego Headshotand secure giving platform that provides donors a seamless way to give on a mobile device. He has implemented effective fundraising strategies for hundreds of Nonprofit & Church organizations. In his spare time, he roots for the Denver Broncos while enjoying a nice craft beer.

iPhone photo by Martin Halek

Stand Out With an Amazing Appeal Letter


Year-end appeal season is about to start. In some cases it already has. Many nonprofits rely on their fall fundraising campaign to raise a good chunk of revenue.

It’s never easy to raise money. It’s it even tougher when you’re competing with scores of other organizations for your donors’ attention, although many of these appeal letters are mediocre at best, as Fundraising Consultant Mary Calahane pointed out in a recent post. Warning: bad mail coming to a box near you

You can have an advantage if you stand out by creating an amazing appeal letter. Here’s how.

Make a good first impression

First, you need to get your donor to open your letter. Give some thought to the outer envelope. That doesn’t mean a teaser that says 2016 Annual Appeal. Instead, say something like Learn how you can help Jason boost his reading skills.

You want to be both personal and professional. If hand addressing the envelopes isn’t feasible, make sure your mailing labels look clean, are error-free, and aren’t crooked. Use stamps if you can.

Create an inviting piece of mail.

Tell me a story

Start your letter with a compelling story. Focus on a person or family and not your organization. Your donors want to hear about the people they’re helping. For example, you could tell a story about Jason and his struggles in school.

Include a photo

Include an engaging color photo in your letter or on your pledge form. Photos can tell a story in an instant.

Here’s more information on creating stories and photos.

Dazzle Your Donors With a Great Story

Capture Your Donors’ Attention in an Instant by Using Visual Stories

Don’t bury your ask

Ask for a donation at the beginning of the next paragraph (after the story). Also, ask your current donors if they can give a little more this year.

Phrase your ask like this – We’re so grateful for your previous gift of $50. Could you help us out a little more this time with a gift of $75?

If you’ve been doing a good job of engaging your donors throughout the year, they shouldn’t mind if you ask for a larger gift. BTW, including the amount of your donor’s previous gift is helpful since people often don’t remember what they gave before.

Be donor-centered

Don’t make your letter all about your organization. Show how you’re making a difference and how much you appreciate your donor’s role in that. Make your donor feel good about supporting your nonprofit.

Share your success

Highlight a few accomplishments from the year and show how you plan to continue your good work with your donor’s help. Remember to stay donor-centered!

Give it the personal touch

Send different letters to people who have donated before and thank them for supporting you. You can also tailor letters to other groups such as lapsed donors, people on your mailing list who haven’t donated yet, event attendees, volunteers, and friends of board members.

Make every effort to do this, especially for people who have given before. Go the extra mile for your donors, so they’ll continue to support you.

Your letter should also have a personal salutation and not be addressed to Dear Friend.

Make it easy for your donors

Include a return envelope with amounts to check off or an envelope and a pledge form. Show what each amount will fund. Do this on your donation page, too. Using Giving Levels to Drive Donations

Some donors may prefer to donate online. Direct them to a user-friendly donation page on your website.

Offer a monthly or recurring giving option

Monthly gifts can generate more revenue. Encourage your donors to give $10 or $20 a month. If they do, you’re getting gifts over $100 each!

It must be easy to read (or scan)

Use short paragraphs and bulleted lists, along with bold or color for key words, but keep it tasteful. Make it easy to read and scan. Use a simple font and 14-point type.

It’s fine to go over a page, especially if you’re breaking up the text with a photo and short paragraphs, but I wouldn’t go over four pages. You can also add a quote or short testimonial. These can be powerful and it helps break up the narrative.

Have a conversation with a friend

Use a conversational tone and keep out jargon like at-risk youth and underserved communities. Be specific and use everyday language. Refer to your reader as you and use you a lot more than we. How to Perform the “You” Test for Donor-Centered Communications – Do You Pass?

Too many editors spoil the appeal

Generally, the more people you involve in writing your letter, the worse it becomes. Fundraising Consultant Tom Ahern refers to this as letter writing by committee.

Your best writer should craft it and then turn it over to your best editor. Whoever signs the letter (your Executive Director?) can take a quick look at it, but don’t send it to a committee.

Besides weakening the content, involving more people takes extra time.

All’s well that ends well

Repeat your ask at the end of the letter. Don’t forget to say please and thank you.

Add a PS

Give some thought to this. People often gravitate to the PS as they scan the letter. Here you could emphasize monthly giving or ask if their company provides matching gifts.

Get your pens out

Include a short handwritten note, if you can. Make it relevant to each donor, such as thanking her for a previous donation or letting him know it was nice to see him at a recent event.

Hand sign the letters in blue ink.

Are you ready?

Stand out with an amazing appeal letter that will capture your donors’ attention and bring you the donations you need. Good luck!

Read on for more inspiration.

How to Write a Better Fundraising Letter

Cutting Through the Clutter of Year-End Appeals

[INFOGRAPHIC] How To Write An Annual Fundraising Appeal Letter

Photo by Modestas Jonauskas


Is Your Website Up to Par?

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It’s hard to believe it’s almost the end of August and year-end fundraising is just round the corner. One thing you need to do before you switch from going to the beach to apple picking is to make sure your website is up to par. This means it’s up-to-date, easy to read and navigate, welcoming, and audience-centered.

How does your website fare?  Use the checklist below to find out.

Home page

Your home page is often the first place a newcomer will visit. Make it an entryway to the rest of your website.

  • Is it free of clutter and easy to navigate and read?
  • Does it include an engaging photo and a small amount of text, such as a tagline or position statement?
  • If you’re highlighting something such as an event, is the information up-to-date, and is it the most newsworthy item you can feature?
  • Does it include a Donate Now button that’s prominent without being tacky?
  • Does it include a newsletter sign-up box and social media icons?
  • Does it include your organization’s contact information or a link to a Contact Us page?
  • Is the navigation bar easy to use?
  • Does it include a search feature?

Donation page

Many people donate online now.  Make this a good experience for your donors. Don’t stress them out with a cumbersome and confusing donation page.

  • Is it easy to use?
  • Does it include a strong call to action with the same messages as all your other fundraising appeals?
  • Does it show how the donation will be used and what different amounts will fund?
  • Does it include an option for recurring gifts?
  • Does it have an engaging photo?
  • After someone donates, does it take the person to a thank you landing page and generate a thank you email?

The rest of your pages

Be sure to take a look at the rest of your web pages, too.

  • Are they easy to read/scan and navigate?
  • Do all your pages have a consistent look?
  • Is the content well written in a conversational style (no jargon!) and free of grammatical errors and typos?
  • Are your pages audience-centered? Remember, some visitors know you well and others don’t. A person visiting your volunteer page may not know much about your organization, so you’ll need to include a compelling description of what you do.
  • Do your pages contain a clear call to action? For example, your volunteer page should entice someone to volunteer.
  • Does each page have one or two photos related to its subject matter? Going back to your volunteer page, you could include a photo of volunteers interacting with clients.
  • Is all the content up-to-date?
  • Do all your links work?
  • Do all your pages include a Donate Now button, navigation bar, social media icons, a newsletter sign-up box, contact information, and a search feature, so your visitors don’t have to go back to the home page?
  • Are you using analytics to see how often people visit your pages? If you have pages that aren’t generating a lot of interest, find out why that’s happening. You may need to make the page more engaging or take it down.
  • Do you periodically survey your supporters to get feedback about your website?
  • Is your website mobile-friendly? This is crucial. 7 Steps To Ensure Your Nonprofit Has A Mobile-Friendly Website
  • Is there other content you should include (or take out)?

After you’ve made all your changes, have someone who isn’t as familiar with your organization (maybe a friend or family member) look at your website to see if the content is clear and it’s easy to navigate.

Your goal is to have a website that’s welcoming and audience-centered for everyone from first-time visitors to long-time donors.

Read on for more information to help you get your website up to par.

14 Best Practices for Nonprofit Websites

Best Websites of Non-Profit Organizations

10 Must-Haves For A Successful Nonprofit Website

Photo by Steve Cook