Why Should Organizations Send End of Year Fundraising Letters?
The last month of the year is vital to most organizations’ fundraising efforts for the year. Kicked off by #GivingTuesday and going through December 31, the year-end giving season simply cannot be ignored. If your school, church or non-profit organization is like many others, you will receive 30-40% of your charitable income at the end of the year. Year-end gifts are made for several reasons including tax purposes (last change for a tax deduction, anyone?), as charitable Christmas or holiday gifts in tribute or in the name of a loved one, and because the need is made wonderfully apparent by organizations during this time.
Now is the time to prepare your end of year fundraising letters, an integral part of your Year-End Appeal strategy.
5 Guidelines for Writing a Successful End of Year Fundraising Letter
Follow these guidelines when preparing your year-end fundraising letter appeals:
- Keep It Simple. Be explicit with explaining your charity or cause, needs and requests up-front, and reiterate in the closing of your year-end giving letter. People often read only the opening and closing paragraph in letters, and decide whether or not to give based on that reading alone.
- Be Positive! Don’t request donations due to negative cash-flow at the end of the year. Donors are motivated to change the world through positive contributions and gifts to help your organization accomplish your goals, not as a financial rescue mission.
- Make it Easy. Include a link to your online donations website, so people can easily make financial contributions. Also include a reply slip and self-addressed envelope for those who prefer to send in donations via mail.
- Tell Your Story. People are motivated emotionally to give. Offer them a story of your impact or work, that they cannot resist. Make it warm and fuzzy!
- Follow the Basics for Easy Reading. Be sure to utilize white space by using bullet points and no long paragraphs. Call out important information with bold fonts.
Be Sure to Know Your Audience & Target Them Correctly
End of year fundraising letter appeals generally come in two forms – online via email or offline via a traditional direct mail campaign. Most organizations will want to send their end of year appeals via both channels, to effectively reach their audience. The main difference in the two year-end giving letter types is the length.
- When sending an End of Year Fundraising appeal via email, be sure to keep it short. A good email length is perhaps 500 words or less, and this appeal directs your supporters and potential donors to your website for more information and an online donation opportunity.
- For direct mail, the letters can be much longer and fuller, as long as the content is engaging. Assume that direct mail recipients are not going to your website and will make a decision to make a gift or not, based on the information you are providing in the year-end appeal letter. The tone is often a bit more formal here as well, stating statistics and perhaps financial. Be sure to include a donation envelope as well as mention of online donation channels here, as many people will prefer to donate via a credit card.
- As well, a year-end appeal should be sent via social media channels. Even if you do a direct mail year-end letter, there is no reason why a gentle email reminder cannot be sent as follow up, and why not post an announcement in your social media channels? Be sure to include a link to your organization’s website and online donation page to make giving by credit card easy.
Prospects for receiving your year-end appeal should include:
- Major gift donors
- Other/all current donors
- All those that have donated in the past
- Business and corporate sponsors
- Organization volunteers and peer to peer fundraisers
- Paid staff
- Your organization’s vendors or suppliers
- Those benefited or affected by your organization
- Any individuals who have expressed interest in your organization, ie those that receive your newsletter
Basically, you need to create an appeal for anyone and everyone associated with your organization. The most important thing is to be sure to segment your letters. Major donors do not want to see the same information as new supporters. Send a slightly different year-end letter to different groups. For example, past donors should receive a different letter than prospects or volunteers, as you’ll want to thank them (again) for their previous donations. It means a lot to remember they’ve contributed in the past and falls flat when new supporters are thanked before making an actual gift. Also, major donors need to be treated as such or they may turn into $50 donors.
What to Include in Your End of Year Fundraising Letter
There are many ways to write an effective donation letter, but these tips will make sure that your letter gets read:
- Introduce yourself, your organization, and the cause for which you are raising funds. Also mention how you intend to raise funds and where the proceeds will go.
- Tell a story about what your organization has accomplished this year – something that will be remembered and make an impact. Often quotes from those affected can help here.
- You may want to offer supporters the option to fundraise for your organization, as part of your holiday or annual campaign. Peer-to-peer fundraising is a nice option to create an even greater impact and lessens the financial burden on your donors. Setting up a crowdfunding website makes it easy for your supporters to create a personal fundraising page and solicit donations on your organization or charity’s behalf.
- Don’t forget to make a strong ask and provide easy ways for the donor to give. Creating suggested donation amounts with a tangible result or impact is a good idea to guide donors in the right direction.
- Thank the addressee for the time spent reading your appeal letter and past support. Tell them how much you appreciate them and how you need their support now to continue with your mission.
- Consider planning an easy event as part of your year-end and holiday fundraising efforts. This can be an Open House at your offices or evening wine tasting. Invite donors to come and connect to your organization during the season.
- Wrap up by wishing them a great holiday season and including your contact details in case they have questions or need additional information.
Don’t forget the all-important thank-you letter, which should be sent out to everyone who made a donation to your year-end campaign. This is not an auto-generated receipt, but a heart-felt thank-you sharing totals raised and goals moving forward. This will only help you be more efficient in your future fundraising efforts and end-of-year donation requests next year.
Sample End of Year Fundraising Letters
We have provided these sample end of year fundraising letters for your review. Feel free to edit and use them for your nonprofit organization or school, following the guidelines above.
Make Giving Easy with Our Free Donations Websites
Be prepared and get your donations and tracking systems in place now. Implement a free Donations website from DoJiggy to take one-time and recurring donations throughout the year. Our Donations platform is highly customizable and allows you to set suggested donation amounts and take tribute gifts – perfect for year-end giving appeals. Donations software will help you track details of your fundraising campaign, manage on-going donor contributions and donor history.