Of course you’re working on your annual appeal and year-end fundraising plan. And if you want detailed specifics on how to do either you can grab one of my E-Guides:
- Anatomy of a Fundraising Appeal Letter plus Sample Template
- Year-End Fundraising Solution Kit – To-Do’s + Checklists
Right now I want to give several specific, timely tips you might not be thinking about.
- Select a story, or series of stories, around which to center your campaign. Rather than retreading last year’s generic appeal, or sending something letting folks know “It’s the end of the year, or it’s the holidays, and it’s time to share your blessings,” send a story about ONE person, place or thing that needs their help. Only one story at a time. You want a story that will break their heart, yet potentially restore their hope. That will happen, of course, when they swoop in and become the hero who gives the story a happy ending.
- Select compelling visuals to support your story. Pictures capture attention, and really are worth 1,000 words. This is important in our digitally revolutionized zeitgeist where folks consume morsels rather than full meals. Visuals whet donor appetites.
- Ask donors to fund something specific. Research shows donors will give more if they can designate their gift. People like to be able to visualize how their money will be used. If you have a multi-program cause, sometimes you can accomplish this by sending a series of appeals. First, pick your top three strategic initiatives. Tell one story about each (September/October, November and December). Use one remit card that gives folks the option to earmark their gift for any of these three programs. Alternatively, highlight different stories in your e-appeal series. Create a different landing page for each appeal that uses the messaging and imagery for each distinct story. This technique works especially well in upgrading mid-level donors because you’re giving them a reason to do something different than just send their habitual unrestricted annual gift.
- Segment your mailing list and send tweaked versions of your appeal and response device to different segments. There are numerous ways to segment your list (e.g., by amount of donation; first-time vs. renewing vs. lapsed; by donor interest area, etc.). When you segment, you show donors you know them and can more specifically tailor your ask amount.
- Set up visits with the Top 10 prospects you absolutely want to connect with personally to ask for gifts before the end of the year. (See more on securing the visit here: Proven Strategies to Get the Major Donor Visit.)
- Recruit active volunteers to become peer-to-peer fundraisers. People respond better to people than they do to organizations. Especially when it’s people they know and trust. So this is a great way to amplify your fundraising power.
- Hold a special board session to inspire volunteers to be active as ambassadors, advocates and askers during the critical year-end months of October – December. Help them reframe fundraising as storytelling to make them comfortable taking on this responsibility.
- Approach potential corporate sponsors for your spring special event. Often this is the time of year they still have budget from the previous fiscal year that hasn’t yet been allocated. And, if not, they can get you to the top of their list for the new fiscal year. You win either way.
The end of the calendar year is when most folks engage in philanthropy. You don’t want to waste it.
Late October or November is too late to begin thinking about your strategy.
Give yourself ample time to collect stories, create copy, collect visuals to support your most compelling stories, recruit your most effective fundraisers and build a timeline for deploying your campaign offer across multiple channels. Writing, editing, getting approvals, printing, collating, affixing personal notes… it all takes time!
If you don’t get control of the details through early planning, you’ll omit the details down the line.
And you know what they say, right? The devil is in the details!