Every year between November and December nonprofits all over the U.S. are scrambling to attract donors with one last push to make a donation before the year ends. What can make your appeal stand out to potential donors and motivate your current donors to stay loyal to your initiatives? The last thing you want is for someone to scroll by your Facebook post or toss your organization’s flier in the recycle bin before reading it. Here are some helpful ideas for making your end of year campaign successful:
Grabbing and Retaining Your Audience’s Attention: It is important to initially grab your reader’s attention. Then make your appeal easy to skim while still getting the point across and not losing their attention:
Photos: Photos are a very effective way to hook someone’s attention and evoke an emotional reaction at the same time. The right photos can tell your story without words. You can try to express in a paragraph how horrible the situation is, but photos prove your point within a few seconds of looking at a picture. The same goes for how you have addressed an issue; using before and after photos can be effective. The photos should give visual indicators of who you serve, illustrate the problem you are working to resolve, and show the need for help. Some examples of photos clues are a child in a wheelchair, an unshaven man sleeping on the ground in an alley, a charred forest, an ill looking dog, ragged clothing on a dirty child, and a women with a scarf wrapped around her bald head.
Wording: It is important to keep your wording concise, but powerful.
- Who and how does your organization and the donor’s money impact? What is the reason you are asking for donations? How do you change lives in a positive way? Do you save lives? How does this have a rippling effect on the participants’ family, your community or the world at large? Is this an investment in someone’s future?
- Use descriptive words and statements that tug at the heart strings.
- How vast and serious is the problem your agency solving or addressing? Are there statistics that illustrate how effective your services are or promote the need for your services?
- Use sentences and words that explain the uniqueness of your program(s). How is your organization or program different from ones in your community or nationally? Is there something new this year about your organization or services? Does your organization service a population that others do not?
- What would happen if your organization did not exist?
- Use details versus broad general statements.
- Use eye catching and heartfelt headlines.
- Make it easy to read. Bullet points can separate important facts. Don’t use a small font.
- Don’t use industry specific acronyms or jargon the reader may not be familiar with. Using a Thesaurus to find the right words can be helpful.
Quotes: If you don’t already have some great quotes from those you serve, plan to take a written and/or oral survey of your constituents a few months before you start your end of the year campaign. Be sure to include open-ended questions about how your services have benefited your participants and family members. You may be surprised to discover there are some personal benefits that are new to you and your staff.
Urgency: Many people today are used to things happening quickly. We can instantly research information on the internet or become aware of critical news via social media with our cell phone. Making coffee or a meal can take a few minutes with a pod coffee maker and a microwave. We can do all our holiday shopping on our phone, and not spend hours driving and walking through stores and malls.
An appeal needs to illustrate there is an immediate need for their funds. Plus once a donation is made, note that the donor’s kindness go to assist or make a substantial, positive impact. In addition, the same people who use their phone for paying bills and buying products, will often want to make a quick decision and donation with their phone.
Personalize: For past substantial donors, it is important to send them a personal note. If you mail them a flier, be sure to include a letter that is addressed directly to that person, and a note hand written on the letter in ink from a Board member who knows that person or the Executive Director. If you have a donor’s cell phone or email, a personal note can also be sent to thanking them for their past support and expressing your hope another donation will be made this year.
Multiple Promotion Methods: Don’t rely on just one method of getting the word out. Whether it is social media post, a text message, a direct bulk mailing, an appeal letter emailed, individual personal letters mailed first class, or a flier passed out at a club or corporate meeting, you have multiple methods you can utilize to promote your campaign. Keep in mind your audiences and your budget as some may be very low to no cost. The ways that donors prefer to be contacted and respond may be different. Communicate with as many potential donor resources as possible. Reaching out the same person(s) more than one time and more than one way is not a bad idea. People in general often tend to be very busy; their time and attention are tugged all day in multiple directions.
This time of the year people will be receiving a lot of solicitations. We hope these tips help make it your organization the one that many new and current people are going to support this year, and for years to come.