Mastering the Mid-Year Fundraising Appeal

Posted by Danielle Cyr on Wed, Jun, 13, 2018 @ 08:06 AM

For many nonprofits, June 30th marks not only the end of the fiscal year but the time to distribute a mid-year fundraising appeal. Unfortunately, as the school year winds down and people pack for their summer vacations, a number ten envelope can get easily lost in the shuffle. Follow these tips to master your mid-year donor appeal and generate maximum returns.                                   

nonprofit fundraisingStand out from the crowd

Number ten envelopes can get lost in the shuffle and June is a busy month for mailing invitations for everything from graduation parties to golf tournaments. As you consider how to package your mailing consider what it will take to get the mailer opened. This may include changing the size/dimensions of the mailing, making the envelope or exterior of the mailer more dynamic, and or putting a compelling call-to-action and “hook” on the mailer itself.

Connect with your stakeholders

Before diving head first into crafting copy and developing a design, step back and consider what attracts donors to your organization. Why do people give to your cause? How can you demonstrate the impact of their gift(s)? By demonstrating the impact of donor support and appealing to their connection to the cause, nonprofit can increase the size of the gifts they receive and support strong donor retention.

Make the ask accessible

Ambitious goals have their place but knowing it will take six figures to make an impact can deter donors from making gifts. By suggesting realistic tiers for gifts or putting a dollar value on specific items a donor can fund, individuals will feel empowered that what they are able to give is truly making an impact. A few examples:

  • A $250 donation sends an low-income child to summer day camp for one week
  • A $100 gift buys one job trainee a month of transportation
  • A $25 gift buys a new backpack and school supplies for a student

Keep the ask specific

In a world where nearly every organization is generating and disseminating information, it is important to tell people how you would like them to engage with your content. For example, would you like donors to give online? Would you like them to make a matching gift? Would you like them to share why they give on social media? Would you like them to invite a friend to give with them?

Be time-bound

While overemphasizing urgency can make truly urgent asks seem less so, it is important to give donors a deadline. For example:

  • Make your $25 gift by August 15th in order to make sure an underprivileged student can start the school year ready to learn with new supplies.
  • Give by July 15th and XYZ Company will match your generous gift. Together, we can make twice as big of an impact!

Keep the copy concise and compelling

Goldfish have longer attention spans than humans. With mere seconds to capture a donor’s attention, keeping copy simple but impactful is key to success. When writing your appeal letter, consider how compelling visuals, impactful statistics, quotes and checklists can help to break content up and make it easier for the reader to digest.

Invite a donor or client to share their story

Stories are about people and what better way to help donors connect to the cause than by hearing from other like-minded people about why they give. Or, give them the opportunity to hear first-hand from a client how the organization has changed their life for the better. These direct connections can make a lasting impact on donors and help them to truly understand the need for the great work your organization is doing in the communities that it serves.

Don’t overlook digital

While some donors prefer snail mail, others live and breathe in a digital world. When planning your mid-year appeal consider how email marketing and social media will supplement the campaign. For example, are there loyal brand ambassadors with sizeable social networks who can help push out a more personal version of “the ask”? Can you spotlight a series of donors or share impact statements/testimonials from clients in your email campaign? Integrating your online and offline fundraising can help to engage more donors and also expose your cause to new audiences.

Whether your mid-year appeal is part of a larger year-long campaign or focused around a specific project/initiative, focus on making your appeal donor-centric and acknowledge the impact your generous donors are making on the lives of those you serve. Find opportunities to set your appeal apart from the clutter of daily mailings and emails, embrace creativity from concept to copy, and ensure the foundation is in place to evaluate the success of your appeal, which will allow you to hone the approach and maximize success in future campaigns.

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Topics: nonprofit marketing, annual appeals, nonprofit fundraising