Did you just have an “OMG, It’s October already” moment?
Your nonprofit may raise 30%, 40%, or more of all the donations you receive all year in the month of December. A lot of organizations do.
And a lot of them started planning their end-of-year campaign in September.
Will your nonprofit reach your donors before they’ve tapped out their charitable donations budget for the year? More important, when you ask them to give, what are you going to say?
Fear not. Communicate! Consulting presents your foolproof timeline for making your end-of-year fundraising a success.
What to do this week
Step one: Thank your donors. Whether you thanked them already, in multiple ways, throughout the year, or whether they haven’t heard from you since last December, they need to hear from you NOW. Show them your gratitude. Tell them, “You’re my hero!”
What to do this month
Step two: Figure out the story you want to build your appeal letter around. If you need permission to tell the story, reach out to get it. If you need a photo, or permission to use a photo, ask for that permission now. (Anything that takes somebody else’s input takes more time. Get started as soon as you can.)
Step three: If you use a graphic designer to put together your package (envelope, letter, reply vehicle), get in touch with them. And if you use a mailing house to send out your appeal letter, get in touch with them too. You don’t want any surprises later!
What to do next month
Step four: Write your letter.
- Make sure you call the recipient by name (not “Dear Friend”) and by the name they want you to call them by.
- Write a great postscript–before you even write the body of the letter.
- Use photos, bold type, italics, bullet points and other tools to break up the text.
- Tell a real story, and leave them feeling the end of the story depends on them.
- Write a different letter to longtime donors than you do to prospects. (Segment your mailing list!) For renewals, thank them for their last donation and tell them what happened “because you helped.”
- Ask people to give, in so many words, at least three times.
Step five: Print up your letter, envelope, and other pieces of your package.
Step six: Call your volunteers to help stuff and mail your appeal (unless you pay a mailing house to do it). And get it in the mail!
What to do in December
Step seven: Follow up your appeal letter with email.
Step eight: Follow up your appeal letter with a phone call.
What to do next
Step ten: Starting in December, and straight through Martin Luther King Day: thank the donors. Don’t just let your auto-responder do it: thank them with email, with a personal letter, with a welcome packet, with video, with invitations to events, on your website…as many ways as you can think of.
Step twelve: Communicate! Through all your channels, tell your supporters stories that will inform them, entertain them, enlighten them, and make them feel closer to you.
When it’s October of next year, you want them looking forward to being asked for an end-of-year gift. (And if you need help doing that, call Communicate! Consulting. Now!)