How to Write Your
Year-End Fundraising
Appeal
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ABOUT NETWORK FOR GOOD
Since 2001 Network for Good has been instrumental at
helping tens of thousands of nonprofits raise more funds by
engaging supporters and donors in a more meaningful and
impactful way. Refreshingly easy to use Donor Management
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Coaches provide nonprofits with a complete fundraising
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their mission.
Table of Contents
Plan an Integrated Year-End Strategy ..........................................4
Year-End Campaign Checklist
.......................................................5
Segment Your Mailing List
.............................................................. 7
Writing Your Appeal
.........................................................................8
Year-End Fundraising Appeal Template
..................................... 11
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Year-end fundraising is the most exciting—and
demanding—time of the year for fundraisers.
Nearly 30 percent of all charitable giving occurs in December,
and 10 percent of all gifts are made in the last three days of
the year. In order to hit your year-end fundraising goals, you
need a memorable, shareable appeal, integrated across all
your communications channels.
The best year-end campaigns run a minimum of eight
weeks, from mid-November through early January. Now
is the time to start pulling together your assets and writing
that winning appeal. Your fundraising prowess, combined
with Network for Good’s donor management system, will
help you create an unforgettable year-end campaign!
Plan an Integrated
Year-End Strategy
The key to any successful campaign is planning out your strategy before you
begin. What makes a year-end strategy unique is the urgency of your message
and the frequency of your outreach.
Since so much philanthropy happens around the end of the year, it’s important to put your best foot
forward in order to attract new donors or convince existing donors to make an additional gift before
the end of the year.
Your year-end appeal is an opportunity to highlight successes from the year, state your case for
support, and encourage donors to help you meet your annual fundraising goal.
Elements of Successful Year-End Campaigns
Sending one piece of mail or one email just won’t cut it for a successful year-end campaign.
In order to meet your goal and end the year strong, you need to bring your ‘A’ game—and that
means all communications tactics are in play. Coordinate your theme and messaging across all
channels, including:
Direct Mail: Send one direct mail appeal. Consider a second reminder mailing or postcard.
Email: Schedule a regular cadence of 10+ emails to your donors and contacts.
Social Media: Plan on two to four posts per week with impact stories, donor profiles, and
board member profiles so you can build engagement, sharing, and giving. Don’t forget to link
to your year-end online donation page.
Mobile Giving: Incorporate a text-to-give initiative into your year-end campaign. 25 percent of
donors complete their donations on mobile devices.
Phone Calls: Reach out to key donors with a personal phone call. Board members and
volunteers make great, legitimizing callers.
Ask us about how a donor management system
can improve your year-end campaign.
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Plan Your Campaign
o
Develop a campaign with a unifying theme
that represents your organization’s mission
and year-end focus.
o
Set a concrete year-end goal.
o
Plan a multi-channel approach to meet
your goal.
TIP: Leverage all your communications channels
like email, social media, and text messaging.
Keep track of the response rate by organizing
your eorts in your donor management system.
o
Create a campaign calendar and timeline to
organize your eorts.
TIP: Make sure your direct mail hits mailboxes
prior to Thanksgiving.
o
Assemble the team and assign roles.
TIP: Identify sta who will cover phones/
inbound requests during the last week/days of
the year, so no opportunity is missed.
o
Brief your sta on the theme, schedule,
and goals.
o
Line up your peer-to-peer campaign leaders
to expand your outreach.
o
Finalize your matching gift donors to help
double the impact.
Create Your Assets
o
Create your branded year-end visuals and
messaging materials; including your featured
image(s), logo, tagline, and hashtag.
o
Collect testimonials, impact stories, videos,
pictures, etc. that tie to your theme.
o
Create a special year-end donation page that
all campaign communications will link to.
o
Design a homepage pop-up for your
website so all visitors will immediately see
your year-end message and call to action.
o
Draft and design your direct mail
letters, inserts, buck slips, and envelopes;
emails, social media posts, texts, and
phone call scripts.
TIP: Don’t forget to create your thank you emails
and letters in advance!
o
Distribute messaging, logos, and images to
your peer-to-peer fundraisers to share with
their networks.
o
Prepare the mobile giving pieces of
your campaign.
TIP: 25 percent of donors complete their
donations on mobile devices. Learn how to boost
your fundraising success with mobile giving.
o
Test your emails and donation page across
desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.
Year-End Campaign Checklist
Make your year-end campaign stand out with an integrated campaign. Use
your images and messaging across all communication channels to ensure your
donors experience a cohesive theme in your appeals, donation page, thank
yous, and social media posts.
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Prepare Your Direct Mailing
o
Follow appeal letter best practices,
including a double-sided letter (preferably
color, not black and white), pictures/
inserts, a strong call to action, a P.S. note,
and a handwritten signature.
TIP: Make your call to action, P.S., and signature
in color so they stand out.
o
Include your theme and branding across
all elements of your direct mail solicitation,
including the letter, insert/buck slip,
response card, outer envelope, and
donation envelop.
TIP: Add a compelling message to your outer
envelope to make your mail stand out.
o
Organize board members and volunteers to
write handwritten notes on the letters of key
prospects and donors.
o
If you have secured a matching gift for the
campaign, be sure to mention it in the letter.
o
Negotiate the printing and mailing costs of
your direct mail solicitation with vendors.
TIP: Determine whether you will use first class
or nonprofit postage which will aect the cost
of the mailing and the time that it takes for your
appeal to reach mailboxes.
Schedule Your Campaign
o
Review data from your previous campaigns
and schedule your year-end appeal based
on your most successful response rates.
o
Leverage multiple channels and time your
communications to work in tandem for the
greatest response.
o
Schedule your mailing based on the
“in-home date” rather than the “drop date.”
How long will it take before the piece
actually hits peoples mailboxes? If you use a
mailing house, they can give you an estimate.
TIP: Tuesdays through Thursdays are the
optimum days to catch peoples’ attention.
o
Keep holidays in mind so your mail doesn’t
get held up.
o
Add yourself to your direct mail and email
lists so you know when your campaigns
are received.
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Segment Your Mailing List
You have multiple messages that you will be sending for your year-end
campaign. As you plan your cadence, consider who you want to send to and
when. Segment your existing donor base for customized messages. Here are
some considerations:
Direct mail: This is the costliest part of the campaign. Depending on the size of your mailing
list, you may want to:
» Select donors who have given within the last three to five years, suppressing those who
haven’t given in many years.
» Suppress any significant donors who have given within the last three months, or who would
be better cultivated via personal calls (from yourself or your board).
» Identify a “test” group that has not been routinely solicited such as event attendees who
haven’t given, a new mailing list you received, family members of service recipients, etc.
Email: You will be sending several email messages during the campaign. The email templates
available in Network for Good’s DMS allows users to send “drip” emails over a multi-week
period. Drip emails are a set of emails that are sent out automatically on a schedule, over a
specific period of time. Segment your list into donors and non-donors for proper messaging.
Social Media: Make note of your followers who engage regularly with your posts. You may find
that these supporters are active “influencers” who would be happy to repost your fundraising
solicitation, or loyal supporters willing to give a significant gift.
Peer-to-Peer: Identify loyal donors and influencers who are willing to act as fundraisers to
multiply your fundraising appeals. Use Network for Good’s peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns
to launch these targeted year-end fundraisers.
Major Donors
Major gifts have a significant impact on all nonprofits, regardless of the organization’s size or budget.
Year-end giving is no exception. Depending on the timing of their last gift and the amount, you
may want to suppress major donors from your mailings and email blasts, to better nurture them
through personal contact. If you decide not to include them in your appeals, consider having
board members call the donors to thank them. Schedule these calls prior to Thanksgiving to tie in
the theme of gratitude. Even a quick, appreciative voice mail can do wonders and perhaps yield a
(surprise) year-end gift.
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Writing Your Appeal
You’ve created an air-tight plan. You and your team are focused and ready
to rock year-end. All that’s left is to write the appeal. You sit down at your
computer and….writer’s block! How do you sum up a year and make a case for
support in a two-page letter?
Establish a relationship.
We’ve lived through quite a year. Acknowledge that fact—and how you’ve made it through together.
Connect personally with your reader and keep your tone conversational. Imagine you’re writing to a
trusted friend. Because that’s exactly what your donors are.
Introduce a strong statement of need.
Your year-end campaign is not the time for a casual request. What do you need to continue your
work and serve your community, protect those who depend on you, or fight the good fight? Help
donors visualize a specific, tangible problem.
Lead with emotion.
Donating is an emotional decision. Include a success story from the past year featuring an individual
directly aected by your donors’ generosity. Make your impact story personal and specific. Include a
picture of the person.
Focus on your donor.
Your donors are responsible for your success. Make sure they know that. Make your donor part of
the story and tell them what their generosity will accomplish. Use “you” rather than “we” sentences
and give the donor credit for the impact your organization has in the community. You can give
a child the books they need to learn. You will provide a safe shelter for homeless veterans. You
can help us make art accessible to all. Remember, your year-end appeal is not about you or your
organization. It’s about what the donor believes and what they want to accomplish.
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Oer a simple, results-oriented solution.
Don’t beat around the bush. Be specific about what
donors can do to help solve the problem you outlined.
Make it clear how they can help and the dierence their
gift will make. Be specific about how much money you
need and how donations will be spent.
Include a clear call to action.
Ask early, ask often. Craft a single, clear call to action
and ensure your entire appeal supports it. A good call
to action is highly specific, urgent, and achievable.
Feature your call to action in the first few paragraphs
of your message. Mention it again an additional one or
two times throughout your appeal. Each time, make it
stand out from the rest of your text. If your donors read
nothing else in your appeal, make sure they read your
call to action. For email appeals, link directly to your
online donation page.
Highlight a suggested donation amount.
Oer your donors guidance on how much to give. Ask for a specific amount and tie it to a tangible
impact. Feature a dollar amount designed to convince donors to increase their giving.
Include an urgent deadline.
Make sure your donors know why you need them to act now. You described a high-stakes need in
your story and call to action. Don’t lose that urgency in your deadline.
Include matching gift information, if applicable.
A highly eective motivator for a year-end campaign is a matched gift. This can boost overall
giving and is a great hook to leverage across email and social media channels, especially on
#GivingTuesday and in the final days of the year.
Sign the letter from a trusted source.
In every letter or email, our eyes are immediately drawn to the greeting, call to action, P.S., and
signature. Messages from friends, family, and valued contacts get read first. Use your executive or
artistic director’s signature so your message receives priority attention.
Include a P.S.
The P.S. is the last—and most important—thing you want your donors to remember. Use your P.S. to
double down on the urgency of your need or the emotion your story inspires. It is your “now more
than ever” moment. Don’t waste it.
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Ready to Send?
Before you launch your campaign, make sure you have these final elements in place.
Choose an integrated donor management system (DMS) that lets you manage and organize
your donor information; personalize, send, and track your communications; view clear
analytics and metrics; and report on each tactic in your year-end fundraising campaign.
Make sure your online donation pages and forms are easy to navigate and connected to your
donor management system so all gifts are credited directly to the donor.
Check that your online communications and donation pages are mobile-friendly.
Proof everything. Read your letters and emails multiple times before sending. Check for
spelling and punctuation, but also make sure your message is consistent and your language
isn’t redundant.
Finally, have your thank yous ready to go. These are the other half of a successful appeal. Your
thank you message is an opportunity to continue the conversation with your donor and begin
stewarding them to deeper engagement.
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Year-End Fundraising
Appeal Template
A successful year-end campaign needs a great appeal that grabs donors’
attention and inspires them to give. Follow this framework to create your
year-end appeal.
Dear
Personalize your appeal with the
recipient’s first name (spelled correctly).
Open your appeal with a vivid, emotional
story that illustrates the need or impact
of a gift. Make your donor part of the
story and highlight how they can make
a dierence. Feature your statement of
need and solution.
Include a short call to action that prompts
readers to make a donation. Include a
specific dollar amount you want them
to contribute. Make this bold and in color
so it stands out. In your email appeals,
link the entire call to action to your online
giving page.
Example: “Your year-end gift of $200
will guarantee more children like John
graduate this year. Please join us today
to create a better future.”



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P.S.
Repeat your urgent call to action that tells
donors exactly what to do, how, and why
they should act immediately.
Example: “Are you ready to change the
life of a student? Your donation of $200
will go directly to ensuring every student
graduates. Make your gift today.”
Provide detail about what the donor’s gift
will make possible. Clarity and specificity
are vital. Make sure donors know why you
need them to act now.
Thank the reader for their support; inspire
them with a hopeful, positive outlook for
the future; and include your signature.
Use an electronic version of your
handwritten signature.
Reinforce the sense of urgency to
encourage donors to act right away.
Example: “You are our most trusted
partner in the fight for better education.
We are so close to our goal. Your gift
today will help put us over the top before
December 31.”


Closing
P.S.
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SCHEDULE A DEMO TODAY
Donor Management Made Easy
The end of the year is a crucial time for nonprofits. It’s important
to stand out and capture your donors’ attention. Use your donor
information and segmentation to put the right year-end appeal
in front of the right donor at the right time. Network for Good’s
donor management system will help you boost your fundraising
eorts to attract the generosity of people who are focused on
giving at this time of year.
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