The spring appeal season is underway and I’ve been barraged with appeals for the last couple of weeks. For many organizations, this is their main fundraising drive of the year. Unfortunately, some of these organizations need a refresher course in appeal writing.
Whether you’re planning a spring campaign or one later in the year, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Don’t call it an annual appeal
Okay, you can use the term annual appeal around the office, but not in your appeal letter. That also goes for 2016 annual fund drive, 2016 Massachusetts Drive, or spring fund drive.
Some of the letters I received open by saying their annual fund drive is underway. Others state it in a header or a teaser on the outer envelope.
The fact that your annual appeal is underway means nothing to your donors and is not a compelling way to open your appeal.
I recommend you open your appeal with a story. Here are some other ideas for opening your appeal. Appeal letter openings
It should be obvious you’re sending an appeal, unless you bury your ask. Your ask should come after the story.
Given how some people feel about fundraising, an envelope teaser that says “Spring Appeal Enclosed”could end up in the recycle bin. If you want to use a teaser, try something like “Hunger never takes a summer break.” or “Inside: Learn how you can help hungry kids this summer.”
Why should I give to your organization?
Most of the appeals I’ve received have come from organizations I don’t already support. I need a good reason to give to your organization and I’m not seeing that.
It’s clear these letters are one size fits all and most likely my name is on a list you purchased or exchanged. Even so, give me some indication that you know me as a person. If I already support hunger-relief organizations, emphasize how you’re making a difference because you know that’s important to me.
I do most of my giving in December so I if you’re sending me another appeal now, you need to convince me why I should give again so soon. In many cases, you never acknowledge that I’ve given before. It’s the same old blah de blah.
Of course, you can make more than one ask a year, but first I need to be thanked, and thanked well, and hear from you regularly. A couple of ways to raise more revenue are to politely ask me to upgrade my gift and/or give to you monthly.
Don’t send me stuff
Please don’t send me mailing labels, notepads,calendars, etc. It’s not going to help convince me to donate to your organization. One organization sent me a certificate of appreciation “in recognition of your generous support,”even though I’ve never supported them.
Most people find your swag to be wasteful. Instead, invest your print budget in creating thank you cards and donor-centered updates.
Send an awesome appeal
It’s never easy to raise money, but you’ll have a better chance if you send a donor-centered appeal that shows how you’re making a difference. Here’s more information on creating a great appeal.
Photo by Judith E. Bell