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Our Year-End Fundraising Appeal Was a Hit—Can We Repeat It?


By Elizabeth Pun

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

When it comes to year-end fundraising, nonprofits fix their end-of-year appeal as a top priority. Every holiday season, they invest the time and effort to craft an effective ask that stands out and inspires donations. Any organization that has been around knows this is no small task.

So when a year-end appeal hits one out of the park, we know what nonprofit professionals might be thinking:

Our end-of-year appeal was successful. Can we repeat it year over year?

The short answer: No.

No matter how successful your individual appeals are, it’s a poor practice to resend the same exact message to your supporters. Repeating the same appeal year-over-year, no matter how successful it was, won’t compel people to make another gift; it will annoy them. Instead, try identifying what made your message successful in the first place and then use those attributes to create a fresh spin on this year’s appeal.

To your supporter, this can feel like you’re trying to pull more money from someone who doesn’t remember what you told them last year. But frankly, your donors will more than likely recognize the message that got them to donate in the first place.

In a similar vein, restating the same ask each year can cause donors to question how you handle your budget. While the general issue your organization tackles will remain the same (whether it’s lack of access to education, clean water solutions, etc.), repeating a very specific need (to build a new school or well in X community) can incite doubts about how you’ve used previous years’ donations, and whether your organization’s work is lasting and effective.

With that said, it’s time to breathe new life into your year-end appeal. To get you started, here are a couple ways you can put a fresh spin on one of your most important asks of the year.

Fresh Spins for Your Year-End Appeal

1. Choose Your Perspective

Decide exactly what your year-end campaign will focus on this year. Are you honing in on one particular project that needs attention, or are you looking to highlight the broader impact or scope of your organization’s mission? Not only will choosing a specific perspective tighten your message, but it will help you communicate to supporters the exact impact their donations will make.

Let’s say, for example, you’re an organization providing clean water and sanitation to vulnerable communities.

Micro perspective: Out of your various water programs, your appeal might focus on your latrine-building project. In a few sentences, you can describe the importance of latrines in improving sanitation and hygiene and decreasing disease. By donating to this particular project, supporters will help fund X number of latrines, covered shelters for safety and privacy, and education about proper facility usage.

Macro perspective: Another angle would be to show how clean water affects beneficiaries’ lives on a holistic level – particularly, their access to education. For example, your appeal might talk about how localized water systems relieve the time-consuming burden of fetching water. When a child spends his or her entire day collecting water, going to school is not an option. Funding your water projects, therefore, can give women and children the freedom to work or get an education.

2. Build Up From Last Year

We’ve talked about how positive reinforcement can encourage donors to give again. Celebrating their previous donation can rekindle their personal excitement and connection to your mission.

So, instead of trying to score another donation with the same year-end appeal, try recognizing your donors’ previous act of giving instead.

Remind donors of their prior support and how it has helped move the needle for your organization. If they responded to your last year-end appeal, give concrete examples of their donation’s impact. If they didn’t give to that specific campaign, let them know how their support this past year has impacted your overall mission.

Segment your lists – Start by splitting your contacts by giving history. Speak to each group’s impact accordingly, and invite them to build on that impact by helping your organization hit the ground running in the New Year.

Your segments and messages can look something like this:

Donors who gave to your last year-end appeal

Around this time last year, you helped build two new schools that impacted more than 400 children. This year, you can give these students the opportunity to continue their education by providing them a scholarship.

Donors who gave to a specific program this past year

This year, you helped train over 300 teachers in Haiti. Now, you can fill their classrooms by giving their students the opportunity to learn. Give a child a scholarship today.

Blog or newsletter subscribers who have never donated

Thank you so much for following and sharing our cause. You are part of a movement that has given more than 8,000 children the opportunity to learn. You can help us raise that number in 2015. Your first donation will help provide a child with a much needed scholarship.

An effective year-end appeal should be celebrated, but it should never be reused. Not only can recycling the same content year over year annoy your audience, but it can even result in lower response rates. Instead, apply a fresh perspective to your upcoming appeal. Try highlighting a specific aspect of your organization that directly impacts your overall mission. Or, shift the spotlight onto your supporters and rekindle their excitement for your mission. Take the time to spruce up your message, and you can unlock even greater success this holiday season

The Guide to Holiday Fundraising

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