It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And I’m not talking about back to school season. Many charities receive 40 percent or more of their annual contributions during the final six weeks of the year. Your year-end fundraising simply can’t be underestimated, and the time to start is now.
So how can you ensure that your year-end direct mail appeal gets results?
Hook your reader, right from the start. One of my favorite examples is from copywriter Jules Brown, writing for Women’s Aid: “Could you picture, for a moment, a woman on the brink of making the hardest decision of her life.” Find your own drama and excitement.
In his book, The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications, Jeff Brooks writes: “You’ve heard that 22,000 children die from hunger-related causes every day. That’s mind-boggling. Heartbreaking.
I spent years looking for ways to make that fact vivid. I talked about how many children die in an hour (917) or a minute (15; that’s one every four seconds). I painted visions of emptied0out American towns with populations of around 22,000.
It never worked.
The fundraising that works is always about a sick baby. Or a father who couldn’t grow enough food for his family. Stories.”
Remember, your story should focus on one individual and should convey emotion. Where is your donor in this picture? What is your donor accomplishing through you?
Your donor is the hero.
How are you sharing impact? Here’s where you’ll share your organization (and your donor’s) impact. Be succinct. Remember, statistics don’t sell! Ooze donor love.
Reinforce the ask and close
I’ve read far too many fundraising appeal letters that avoid making an ask altogether. They hint. They make their ask general and non-specific. Your ask needs to be strong, sure, specific. “Pamela, your gift of $20 will multiply more than 6 times to save starving children.” (Food for the Poor, Inc.)
And when it comes to your letter, too many cooks spoil the broth. Remember the words of Tom Ahern, “‘Zero Tolerance’ for approvals and reviews. The fundraiser has the final word.
To make it even easier for you, download this handy dandy Basic Appeal Template that helped one subscriber raise $4,000 from a tiny house-file of long-lapsed donors (click the image to download).
Make sure you’ve covered every aspect of year end fundraising. Look for my Basics & More™ course, Supercharge Your Year-End Fundraising, to launch in October of 2015.