Cutting through the noise: Optimizing your end-of-the-year appeal

By Katy Snyder, JVA Consulting

While you may cringe to hear the words “end-of-year appeal” while it’s still 90 degrees outside, now is the time to start working on your appeal, before it gets lost in the noise of all the other tasks you have on your end-of-year to-do list and among all of the other nonprofits that are vying for donors.

According to Dana Rinderknecht, manager of online giving for Community First Foundation’s Giving First program, who spoke at JVA’s recent Funder Panel, this year in particular has been a demanding one for donors in Colorado, with tragic events such as the wildfires and the Aurora theater shooting causing many donors to be tapped out, both financially and emotionally. In order to reach your goals, you will need to be able to clearly make the case that your cause is worthy, even when there are other very real and deserving causes.

To help you get ready in the most painless way possible, we’ve compiled some of our best tips—old and new—to get you on the path to success for the coming year.

Personalize. Don’t lose out on your chance to connect with donors on an individual level by having board members personalize the letters with a handwritten comment or thank you. Always follow up with a call to those who donate. And don’t forget to make it about the donor. Why should he/she donate? What will they get out of it?

Segment. Segmenting is another way of personalizing by dividing your donors into groups and targeting your message. Would you send the same type of thank you to a close friend who donates to your organization as you would to a foundation that gave you a major gift? No! And the same goes for writing your end-of-year letter.

Use all channels at your disposal. Have a Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest page? Put them to use to broadcast the theme you use in your year-end appeal.

Thank before you bank. An oldie but a goodie. Send out a thank-you as soon as you get a donation, before you cash the check. If you let donors donate in honor of another person (always a good idea), send both parties a thank-you note. This lets the recipient know where their gift is going and gives you a potential new donor to add to your database. And, if you are a development director and want other ideas on how to thank your donors, come to our Recognizing Your Donors session of the Development Director Breakfast Club on September 28. Click here for more info and to register.

Come to our training. On October 16, JVA will expand on the topics outlined above and teach you creative approaches to help you meet (or exceed) your end-of-the-year appeal goals at our How to Optimize Your Year-End Appeal training on October 16. Click here to register or for more info.

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