End of Year Appeal Letters
Did you know many people don’t read most of your end of year appeal letter? They skim. This means you need to make sure your key points are in the most skimmed area, and are direct and actionable.
Letter writing for fundraising appeals can feel daunting and high stakes, especially this year. I find the most success is writing my letters based on how I would want to receive them. Not too dry and stuffy, not alarmist and above all make them engaging, make me want to keep reading. They should be about me, the reader and my relationship with the organization. The most successful letters have the word “you” in the first sentence.
I want to know what the organization is doing, I want to know how it’s successes are impacting others, how it’s going during this pandemic, and most of all, I want to know how I can help further the work.
The letter should be about the reader, not the agency. What I’m looking for is an invitation to engage, an opportunity to join in the important work of your mission. If you are writing to me, but not inviting me to DO something, I will wonder, “what now?”.
For example, we all have that friend who will only text you when they have a problem. They might start off asking “how are you?” but they don’t mean it. It’s only an opening so they can tell you everything that’s wrong for them. It’s a one-sided relationship. Don’t be that friend!
Report on the successes of the organization as well as the challenges Especially now, Its ok to say it’s hard, but then tell me what you think I can do to help, or ideas your organization has for solving it, or invite me to be part of a solution – even if we don’t know exactly what “that” is yet.
I, as the reader, can guess that your programs are likely disrupted. Tell me your plans, your ideas, ask me for mine. This should be a conversation, not a one-sided story. Remember most donors give more when they feel needed, but more importantly when they feel that they are making an impact on the work. They are involved and in a relationship with the organization. This is far beyond money, it’s at its core a relationship based on values, the “why” of why people donate.
Try to expand the number receiving your letter, by thinking of EVERYONE who comes in contact with you and could be a new friend? Clients, foundations, service providers, vendors, donors. How might that change how you speak to them?
Most of us are busy and we get lots of these letters, it is common to skim them, so make sure your call to action, and your most important information is in the sections that people read the most. (If you don’t know where that is, sign up for my text tips and I’ll tell you!)
Most of all, the letter should encourage and reenforce a positive relationship with whomever is reading it. That in itself is a success!