For fundraisers, December is a marathon of appeals, posts, thank-yous, events, and all the other tasks associated with the busiest month of the fundraising year. For donors, it’s equally chaotic. Family, friends, work, holiday planning, and parties crowd their schedules. Advertisements clog up their email inboxes and news feeds. They receive multiple appeals from multiple nonprofits looking to capitalize on holiday generosity.
What can you do to stand out from the crowd?
Well, we have a few suggestions, and all of them boil down to one thing:
Make your donors feel amazing about supporting you!
Here’s how — with some specific suggestions.
Tell a Breathtaking Story and Make the Donor the Hero
I’ve worked in the fundraising industry for plenty of years. Do you know how many stories I’ve seen? Hundreds. Maybe thousands! Do you know how many stories I’ve seen that made me the hero? Maybe a handful.
Most of the appeals your donors will get this year will ask them to support a nonprofit organization. Those appeals will probably include information about the nonprofit and the work they do. They will probably include a mission statement. They will almost certainly list the nonprofit’s achievements over the past year and ask for money so they can continue making a difference. The nonprofit is the hero of the narrative.
Compare that kind of appeal to the commercials you see on TV. A mom warms her kid up with a bowl of chicken noodle soup. An athlete scores a winning goal in her top-of-the-line cleats. A silhouetted man sweeps his spouse off their feet with a sparkly diamond. These are all effective commercials because the buyer, not the company, is the hero of the narrative. They can picture themselves delighting someone with the gift they’re being sold.
Think of your year-end appeal as a commercial. Now ask yourself, is it a good one or a bad one?
What are you “selling” to your donor? Is your appeal a commercial for your organization? Or does your appeal center on how your donor can be someone’s hero?
For-profit companies create the holiday commercials they do because people like to imagine themselves making someone very happy with that gift. Use the same tactic for your donors!
Tell them how their support will make a difference in someone’s life.
Remember, they’re the hero!
Open Your Appeal with a Thank-You
This tip works best for the appeals you send to your existing donors. When sending an appeal to someone who’s already given to you this year (or maybe even last year!), open your appeal with a short thank-you message. Even something as short as a sentence saying “Thank you for working with us this year! Your support has made a tremendous impact on our community.” When you follow with a brief impact statement, this can make your appeal more interesting — and personally meaningful — to donors.
Let’s be honest; when a donor receives an envelope (or email) from you during December, they immediately expect it to be an appeal. How delightful would it be for them to receive a thank-you first? After all, we’re typically flooded with messages saying “Buy! Buy! Buy!” during the holiday season. But how often do we hear, “Thank you! You’re wonderful!” from others?
Opening your appeal this way gives you an easy segue into sharing details about how your donor’s gift made a real impact on someone’s life.
And those two elements—thanking your donors and communicating their impact — are a proven way to increase the likelihood of them making a gift.
Make Giving Feel Good
It’s easy to place tons of emphasis on writing story-driven appeals that delight and inspire our donors. But while we often spend time crafting beautiful appeals, we can overlook the actual donation process! Our appeals are well-designed and inspiring, which can make landing on a bare-bones donation form or filling out a tedious remittance slip frustrating.
To truly delight your donors this December, spend time making your donation processes easy and enjoyable. Here are a few tips you can use to get started!
3 Direct Mail Remittance Slip Tips
- Use a full-page remittance slip! Trying to write one’s full name, address, and billing information on a small slip can be frustrating for donors (and hard to read for staff!). Instead of asking donors to cram a bunch of text on a small slip of paper, include a full-page remittance slip. It will make the donation process much more enjoyable!
- Include branding elements from your campaign on the slip. By the time a donor has decided to make a gift, she’s been moved by your carefully constructed campaign. Including campaign branding on your remittance slip helps reinforce the emotions that inspired the gift to begin with.
- Leave space for donor feedback. One of the benefits of having a full-page remittance slip is having room to give donors a voice. Ask donors to send a note to your nonprofits’ clients or beneficiaries, ask them to share what they’re thankful for, or use a conversation starter that fits your campaign.
3 Online Donation Form Tips
- Make your donation form as brief and streamlined as possible. Now isn’t the time to ask donors a bunch of questions! Your donors are busy, and they should spend as little time as possible making a donation. If you want to ask them about how they heard about you, what inspired them to give, or how they’d like to be communicated with in 2020, ask those questions in a follow-up survey instead.
- Include branding elements from your campaign on the donation form! Small changes like (a) adding a great photo of someone your donor is helping with their gift, (b) adding a sentence or two about a donor’s impact, or (c) including impact statements for suggested gift amounts help keep donors immersed in the feelings that inspired them to make a gift.
- Make the most of your confirmation page. Your donors already feel great when they make a gift; keep those good feelings going by adding a few inspirational elements to your confirmation page. Some good ones to include are (a) your campaign’s branding, (b) thank-you image (or video!), (c) brief but heartfelt (and donor-centric!) thank-you message, and (d) simple request to stay engaged by liking the organization on Facebook, sharing the video, etc.
Stand out from the crowd by ensuring your donor’s giving experience is pleasant, not merely transactional.
Get Out There and Knock Their Socks Off
This December, you’ll be vying for donors’ attention (and dollars) when they’re being inundated by commercials, family obligations, parties, and all the other trappings of the holiday season. Anything you can do to stand out from the crowd will help you thrive this season! Center your appeal on how a donor can be a hero to someone, open your appeal by thanking them for past gifts, and spend time creating a donation experience that inspires and delights them. You (and your donors!) will be glad you did.
Want more tips to make your appeal the best it can be?
Grab Anatomy of a Fundraising Appeal + Sample Template. This is a simple, yet incredibly thorough, 62-page step-by-step guide to crafting a killer appeal letter or email appeal. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll raise more money. This stuff works. Period.
Image courtesy of Pexels
Abby Jarvis, guest blogger, is the Nonprofit Education Manager for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.