As a nonprofit professional, you may already be familiar with year-end appeal letters and how they can help you reach your fundraising goals.
Usually, the year-end period begins on Giving Tuesday and lasts until the end of the year, and is the most giving period that exists in the whole year. These months raise the largest sums throughout the whole year for most fundraisers.
Meaning that the year-end appeal letter is a big opportunity!
This letter should be clear, concise, and full of heart.
The reader needs to engage with your letter from the very first word.
These are my four best tips to help you create the best fundraising appeal copy in your next year-end letters.
- Make a header that stands out
- Create a sense of urgency
- Have a heartfelt story
- Always include a P.S.
1. Make a header that stands out
A header should say in a few words what the full letter will be about. Your year-end fundraising headline copy should be attractive and immediately intriguing to the reader.
A great example of this is the following letter from “Book Aid International”.
Using a riddle, the organization has already captured the reader’s interest.
Another great example is this letter from Greenpeace. They like to use copy that is big. The especially one-word verb in capital letters and large font size. E.g.: STOP.
Here’s a chart that I use to remind myself what works best and how to test my letter:
|Headers or headlines should give urgency to your letter.||Try testing your next appeal letter with and without an engaging headline.|
|They should be clear and relate to your picture.||Make sure your headline is no longer than 3 lines.|
|They should introduce your story or an interesting fact. And communicate the drama of your cause.||Use a trusted font like Poynter Text.|
2. Create a sense of urgency
Creating a sense of urgency helps your message to be more effective. The use of powerful words can make your call to action more effective.
Some examples of powerful words that create urgency:
You can create a sense of urgency from the first line in the email after the headline. These are some examples:
- “We know that extremism is rising and we want to help to stop it”.
- “It’s a dark and dreary night and the wind is spattering raindrops on my window. But, before I retire for the evening, I must write to dear friends like you and tell you about the troubles I face.”
- “This is the most difficult letter I have ever written in the 10 years I have been the executive director of this domestic violence nonprofit.”
This letter from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, is a great example of a direct message. The letter states from the very beginning what they need.
Be sure to set a deadline.
Use the following phrases:
- Please try to give something
- I hope you will join in contributing
- We desperately need your help
- We cannot continue our work without your help
3. Have a heartfelt story
Storytelling is a huge part when it comes to fundraising. Especially if the character writing the letter benefitted from the cause or if the narrative is pivotal to the movement.
E.g. an organization that protects the rainforest birds’ habitat can use a bird as their main character.
Here are some things you can also write about:
- Share a new fact:
Stating an interesting new fact is something that your readers will share with others. It invites dialogue and present possibilities for donors to recruit more donors.
“80% of the birds found in the Caribbean are not found anywhere else in the world.” -The Jamaican Toddy.
- Tell a specific story:
Share the story of a particular person, tell people about their problem, and then say what the organization and donors did to help them. Close the letter with an ask.
Here’s a letter that tells the story of Joan, a homeless person is getting threatened to be evicted from the house for not paying rent. She’s 79 years old and not able to work due to a stroke.
The organization Shelter got in contact with her and has spoken with the council to help her find suitable accommodation.
On the back of the letter, you will find the call to action and the way how to help Joan. And many more people that are in the same situation as her.
- Share a personal story or a topical news story
When I was in Jamaica, there was a Chinese firm that wanted to turn part of the fields into a concrete harbor for their ships.
This was going to destroy vital mangroves and bird habitats. So… what could have been done to stop this concrete disaster in Jamaica?!
Well… generate a campaign to make it stop. A movement started and people participated, by joining the cause. The Goat Islands were saved.
Telling a story or a personal anecdote can help the reader to connect better with the letter.
4. Always include a P.S.
A P.S. or Post Script usually comes after the main body and signature in your year-end fundraising letter. So, why is it important that you include a P.S. in your year-end appeal copy?
Because it works as an afterthought or extra information that you would like the reader to keep in mind after they read the letter
A P.S. can be:
- Presenting a prime benefit
- Restatement of the offer
- Deadline reminder
- Bonus offer
- A highlight of some part of the narrative described in the body of the letter
Here are some examples of these different types of P.S.:
- Restatement of the letter headline:
“Could you help a child like Belinda today?”
- Restatement of the offer:
“If you give $25 today, your donation will be matched by a generous anonymous donor!”
- Restatement of the premium:
“If you give $250 today, we’d love to ask you to join us on a steamboat cruise with the Circle of Hope Giving Society. Please give today”.
- Restatement of how donations will be used:
“When you put your check for $50 in the envelope enclosed, you’ll be helping not just one dog, but helping ensure that ten more dogs can find forever homes”.
- Restatement of the crisis:
“This Christmas, our children are hungrier than ever. Please, help ten children get dinner with your generous gift of $100 today”.
To Sum Up
Use these 4 tips in your next year-end fundraising letter copy you can create a message that impacts the reader and allows you to reach your fundraising goals.
Keep in mind the following points:
- A nice story begins from the headline of your letter.
- Create a sense of urgency in your copy.
- Storytelling is necessary when creating a year-end appeal letter.
- Close your letter with a nice P.S. to highlight an idea you want the reader to remember
I am looking forward to reading your next year-end appeal letter!
Still looking for more tips to design your next year-end fundraising appeal letter? Download this year-end free template letter.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO MASTER YOUR NEXT YEAR-END APPEALS?